BBC: "Hindi audiences are crucial."

Posted: 30 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
In India: "BBC offers differentiation in content in both the SW and FM space. 'By doing the FM specific programmes, we are focusing on youth who are not used to listening to AM and for them FM is synonyms for radio. AM radio is traditional radio so the style is different and does a lot of speech radio. FM is mainly music, so we have to do what the market demands. For FM, we package small programmes where the style of programming and content differs from AM.' BBC is planning to explore options in all existing platforms of communication available, including FM, broadband, DTH channel distribution system, mobile phone and satellite radio. 'We have been thinking of launching mobile services, the plan has been to launch news services in audio format where people can dial and listen to BBC programmes.' ... 'BBC sees India as an important market. Hindi audiences are crucial because there are loyal listeners for our Hindi programmes.'" Radio and Music, 29 september 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Evidence of effectiveness: when security people scuffle with your crew.

Posted: 30 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The security team accompanying Sudan 2nd Vice President Ali Osman Taha in New York scuffled with television crew from the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) Arabic TV last week, a UN diplomat told Sudan Tribune today. The incident happened following an interview by BBC presenter Luqman Ahmed with Taha as he was leaving. An aide to Taha got into an argument with the BBC staff raising objections about his conduct during the interview." Sudan Tribune, 30 September 2008.

BBC World News MD departing, will "recharge batteries."

Posted: 30 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The managing director of BBC World News, Anne Barnard, is standing down after nine years with channel. Barnard told staff this morning of her decision to resign from the post she has held for nearly 18 months with the commercially funded channel so she could 'refresh, take a bit more personal time, travel a bit and recharge some batteries' before looking for a new challenge. The channel's editorial director, Sian Kevill, will assume responsibility for day-to-day running in her absence. ... A spokesman for BBC World News told MediaGuardian.co.uk that when Barnard joined, it was losing £20m a year, adding that last year that figure had dropped to less than £8m and losses were expected to be even lower this year." The Guardian, 29 September 2008.

Temporary management change for French international broadcasting.

Posted: 30 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Alain de Pouzilhac, the President of holding company L’Audiovisuel extérieur de la France (AEF) is temporarily leaving the France 24 managing director post. The reason given is that he will need to concentrate on the coming negotiations linked to TF1’s exit from the French international news channel’s capital and wants to avoid conflicts of interest. AEF is the future holding company that will gather France's TV and radio activities abroad including France 24, RFI and TV5." Rapid TV News, 29 September 2008.

Radio Luxembourg in reverse.

Posted: 30 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Subject of a new film documentary: "The wartime broadcasts of Grand Duchess Charlotte of Luxembourg were beacons of hope to her beleaguered people during the dark days of World War II... As families feared every knock on the door, and men went into hiding rather than fight for the enemy, one calm voice borne over the airwaves kept hope alive. Broadcasting via the BBC's World Service the Grand Duchess Charlotte became a 'propagandist in pearls', telling the population the whole world knew of their suffering and there was no doubt of the final outcome." thisisbristol.co.uk, 30 September 2008.

Zambia counters the tropical shortwave denöuement.

Posted: 30 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC) will soon commission new short wave antennas for both radio one and two. The installation of the new transmitters by a South African contractor at shorthorn in Lusaka started in July at a cost of K2-billion. ... ZNBC will be more consistent in reaching out to the general public, particularly in outlying parts of the country once the antennas are operational." ZNBC, 30 september 2008.
     "We are approaching the end of the Era of Domestic broadcasting on the Tropical Bands for two main reasons: The technical standard of a large part of the transmitters in the tropical countries is poor and they cannot be repaired for economical reasons. In more developed countries the domestic shortwave transmitters are being replaced by FM- and Internet-networks. The trend above is clear: The falling trend continues and has become more steep during the past year." Anker Petersen, Danish Short Wave Clubs International, via Shortwave Central, 5 August 2008.

Shortwave for newsgathering, 30 years ago.

Posted: 30 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"When Gulf News started 30 years ago, the UAE was a very different place. ... The role of a newspaper was much simpler in those days. Gulf News recorded events and government announcements, and brought news from the outside world. There was no satellite TV, no internet, and the only way people could find out what was happening around the world was on the occasional shortwave radio or the printed news tickers which were hung up in hotel lobbies, or through newspapers." Gulf News (Dubai), 30 September 2008.Usi

Proposed new agency "would manage U.S. international broadcasts directly."

Posted: 28 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"U.S. Senator Sam Brownback today introduced legislation that would establish the National Center for Strategic Communications, an agency similar to the now defunct U.S. Information Agency. ... In addition to establishing a new public diplomacy agency, Brownback's proposal would abolish the existing Undersecretary for Public Diplomacy at the State Department and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Their functions would be transferred to the new National Center for Strategic Communications where they would be managed by single director. The Director of the Center would oversee an interagency panel of representatives from other federal entities whose missions inherently involve strategic communications with foreign publics. ... Under Brownback's legislation, the new Center would separate public diplomacy - speaking to foreign publics - from official diplomacy - speaking to foreign governments. Second, the Center would manage U.S. international broadcasts directly. Third, the Center would enlist the support of private, non-profit and non-governmental organizations and would enable the new Center to make grants to representatives of the Center in key countries to implement U.S. national strategy on a local level." Senator Brownback press release, 23 September 2008.
     Senator Brownback discussed his bill, S.3546 (text not yet available) at the Brookings Institution, 23 September (transcript not available, at least not yet). Tom Dyne, former president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, disagreed with Brownback. He "noted that the past success of entities such as Radio Free Europe and Voice of America was due to their emphasis on independent journalism and professional integrity, not government propaganda. He said that international broadcasting too connected
to the U.S. government will not be seen as legitimate by local populations. Dyne did agree that there is a need to reevaluate the current system and cull ineffective and redundant programs." Notes by Project on Middle East Democracy, 24 September 2008.
     Senator Brownback, whose bill would create a successor to USIA, was, as U.S. representative in the 1990s, "a prime sponsor of the Congressional effort to abolish" USIA. New York Times via Gerald Loftus, Avuncular American, 27 September 2008.
     For other blog reaction to the bill, see MountainRunner, 25 September 2008 and FreeMediaOnline, 25 September 2008.
     People tune to international broadcasts to get news that is more comprehensive and reliable than the news they get from their domestic state-controlled media. Credibility is therefore the be-all and end-all of successful international broadcasting. To achieve credibility, international broadcasting must be independent. To be independent, it must be controlled not by a government, but by a board -- a bipartisan board whose members have fixed and staggered terms.
     That was the reasoning behind the creation of the Broadcasting Board of Governors in 1994. As much as some of us have been aggravated by some of the BBG's decisions, U.S. international broadcasting cannot succeed if it does not have a board providing the firewall between it and the U.S. government.
     The United States government benefits from an international broadcasting over which it does not have direct control because 1) the broadcasts will have an audience, and 2) those audiences will be well informed and bolstered against the disinformation on which dictators and terrorists thrive.
     If Brownback's new entity "would manage U.S. international broadcasts directly," then it would probably call for news that accentuates the positive, underplays the negative, and adds lots of pro-U.S. commentary. The audience for U.S. international broadcasting, which, collectively, is much, much smarter than, collectively, the decision makers and experts of Washington, would immediately recognize such a broadcasting effort for what it is: propaganda. And they would tune elsewhere.
     Public diplomacy, on the other hand, is not supposed to be independent. It is the explanation and advocacy of U.S. policies to foreign publics. It is the job of the State department to project U.S. policies abroad. State is the logical location for public diplomacy.
     I used to work for USIA. USIA officials were constantly going over to State for meetings. Information officers, who took the State Department's Foreign Service exam, worked out of or in conjunction with U.S. embassies. They did not travel or embark on projects without ambassadorial approval. USIA was basically a bureau of State, with the addition of a large front office.
     Brownback's press release states that "the new Center would separate public diplomacy - speaking to foreign publics - from official diplomacy - speaking to foreign governments." Why? Would there be two different messages? Would we have one policy for foreign governments, another for foreign publics? Those foreign publics (remember, they are much, much smarter... ) would soon detect the duplicity. Isn't the international credibility of the United States bad enough already?
     On the bright side, S.3546 does have entertainment value. Here is Senator Brownback, the small-government, fiscal conservative, trying to solve a problem by creating a new bureaucracy.
     Many people think the global unpopularity of the United States can be solved by "strategic communications." But, as many other people have pointed out, the popularity of the United States is actually determined by the policies and actions of the United States. The best public diplomacy and international broadcasting can do is to keep the United States from being even more unpopular by countering disinformation about the United States.

VOA election news.

Posted: 28 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Of course FOX News, CNN and the rest will be all over the debates like big dogs. But so will one network that will translate Mr. Biden and Mrs. Palin into Urdu and Hindi, among other things. 'The 2008 presidential election is generating intense interest around the world,' said Danforth W. Austin, director of Voice of America, which will carry the debates live to a potentially humongous global audience. 'VOA — reaching about 134 million people in 45 languages — is uniquely poised to explain to its audiences the differences and similarities in the candidates' foreign policy positions,' Mr. Austin said." Washington Times, 28 September 2008. But with VOA Hindi radio ending on 30 September, how will the debate translated into Hindi reach India? Actually, I think there will be coverage on the VOA Hindi website, rather than simultaneous translation.
     Sergei S. in Illinois and Glenn Hauser in Oklahoma heard VOA live coverage of the 26 September (UTC 27 September) presidential debate with good reception on unpublicized shortwave frequencies, presumably via Greenville NC. The frequencies went off abruptly at 0200, even though the debate continued. DX Listening Digest, 27 September 2008.
     Blogger complains that one of his posts brought a response publicizing VOA election coverage. He says that it was not only spam, but spam "offshored" to India. Steve Miller's Blog, 25 September 2008.

Canadian symposium includes papers on BBC Cold War role.

Posted: 28 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Cold Culture: A symposium on New Approaches to Cold War Research, Education and Expression, 7-9 November 2008, at Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum, Carp Ontario, includes "The BBC, Communism and the Cold War," Dr Gordon Johnston, Leeds Metropolitan University, and "Aural History: the BBC External Services, international broadcasting and the Cold War Challenge," by Alban Webb, Open University, UK. Diefenbunker website.

USA at the short end of another BBC World service poll.

Posted: 28 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"US-led efforts to tackle the al-Qaeda group are not regarded as successful, an opinion poll carried out for the BBC World Service suggests. Some 29% of people said the 'war on terror' launched by President George W Bush in 2001 had had no effect on the Islamist militant network. ... Some 23,937 adults across 23 countries were polled for the BBC World Service between 8 July and 12 September." BBC News, 26 September 2008.

BBC in Yamoussoukro, Bouaké, East Stroudsburg, and Pyongyang.

Posted: 28 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
BBC opens its new 24/7 FM outlets in Ivory Coast -- Yamoussoukro 97.7 MHz and Bouaké 93.9 MHz -- with special programming. BBC World Service press release, 26 September 2008.
     "Remember to support college (the real FM) radio and especially 90.3 WESS [East Stroudsburg, PA], where a diversified approach to broadcasting is heard and the BBC World Service is broadcast when a show is not." Tom Crowley, letter to Pocono Record, 27 September 2008.
     "Only cell phones have to be left in care of customs till you leave, but even hardened Blackberry addicts didn't miss them after a day or so. (As one guest observed, there may not even be a signal to pick up, anyway). You can make or receive international calls from your room [at the Yanggakdo Internation Hotel in Pyongyang], send faxes and check emails in the lobby -- and watch BBC World News round the clock on TV." Derek Elley, Variey, 26 Septemner 2008.

The internet radio, on the table where the shortwave radio used to be (updated).

Posted: 28 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Have you heard of internet radio? Radio stations all around the world make their content available on the internet and the usual way to access it is through a computer with a broadband connection. You simply choose the radio station you want, be it in Tasmania or Tajikistan, and listen in while you're doing whatever it is you do on your computer. That's the trouble - you have to be at the computer. Or it was the trouble until Tivoli's new NetWorks radio came along. Take this out of the box and turn it on and it immediately pairs with your wi-fi network." Sydney Morning Herald, 25 September 2008.
     "California's C. Crane ... notes on its site: 'Well, we couldn't let the Europeans and Brits have all the glory, so we've built a WiFi radio of our own.' Priced at $214.95, the CC WiFi Internet Radio follows the increasingly popular trend of creating a speaker cabinet enclosure first, then fitting the radio's electronics, LCD display and control surfaces into it." James Careless, Radio World, 24 September 2008.
     Update: "The new Internet Radio from Aluratek ... looks and operates like a stylish digital table radio. ... I found channels that offered the pop music from Nepal, Japan and Kyrgyzstan; the BBC World Service; a dozen different bluegrass channels; Native Radio and Paranormal Radio; and channels called Deutschlandfunk, Roots Reggae and Polka Heaven." Ric Manning, Louisville Courier-Journal, 27 September 2008.

RNZI celebrates sixty years (updated).

Posted: 28 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"State broadcaster Radio New Zealand will celebrate 60 years of international shortwave broadcasting on September 27. On Dominion Day in 1948, New Zealand's first international short-wave service was launched by Prime Minister Peter Fraser. Today the service broadcasts as Radio New Zealand International, providing a link between New Zealand and its Pacific neighbours." NZPA, 25 September 2008. The Mailbox programs covering the anniversary can be heard at the RNZI website.
     Update: "The network has had a chequered history but, sixty years on, is stronger than ever, broadcasting today as Radio New Zealand International, an award winning, internationally recognised service, providing an essential link between New Zealand and its Pacific neighbours." RNZI press release, 25 September 2008. See also the RNZI anniversary page at the Radio New Zealand website.

VOA's medium wave frequency in Moscow is now English-only.

Posted: 27 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"A U.S. broadcaster is denied access to a radio frequency in the Russian capital. The censor in this case is not the Kremlin, as one might expect, but the U.S. government agency which manages U.S. taxpayer-funded international broadcasts. The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is preventing the Voice of America (VOA) from using an AM frequency in Moscow for its Russian-language radio programs, even though the Russian authorities still allow the frequency to be occupied by VOA. The same bipartisan Board ignored directives from Congress and terminated all on air VOA Russian radio broadcasts on July 26, just 12 days before the Russian army attacked Georgia. ... The 810khZ AM frequency in Moscow, which is leased by the BBG, is now used to rebroadcast VOA English programs." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 24 September 2008. RFE/RL Russian continues on it Moscow medium wave frequency, 1044 kHz.

Czech Republic wants to restore relations with Iran complicated by presence of RFE/RL in Prague.

Posted: 27 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Czech Republic wants to promote its diplomatic relations with Iran to the ambassadorial level this year or in the first half of next year when it will hold the EU rotating presidency... Last November Iran lifted all restrictions for Czech exports that it had implemented since 2003 due to Prague-based Radio Free Europe Iranian Broadcasting. Iran also recalled its ambassador from Prague in 1998 due to the broadcasting." CTK, 24 September 2008.

Public diplomacy career track: no longer separate, not yet equal.

Posted: 27 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The stated goal of the 1999 merger of the USIA into the State Department was to integrate PD considerations, and PD personnel, more fully into the 'mainstream' of State Department planning and policymaking. The Commission has found that this integration remains largely elusive, and, concomitantly, that PD officers continue to be significantly under-represented in the ranks of the Department’s senior management. As we put it in the report, 'The PD career track is no longer "separate," but it certainly is not yet "equal."' If the Department is to attract and retain first-rate PD officers, then it needs to demonstrate that these officers will be regarded as capable of holding senior Department positions." Amb. Elizabeth Bagley, vice chairman, U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, testimony to Senate Subcommittee on Oversight of Government Management. State Department, 23 September 2008. See alo FAQs.

Community organizers, denigrated by some, might be good public diplomats.

Posted: 27 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Community organizers know that public trust is generated in reaction to the empowerment people feel when their ideas for projects are implemented and the benefits are tangible; this may inform, at least in part, the approaches of community organizers to public diplomacy, the 'war of ideas', and addressing root causes of terrorism. Community organizers would herald the incredible contributions of the Peace Corps to nations of the world." Yossef Ben-Meir, American Chronicle, 23 September 2008.

Respondents rate countries, including some they may have never heard of.

Posted: 27 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"GfK Roper ... announced results from the 2008 Anholt-GfK Roper Nation Brands Index report. Germany is viewed as the best overall "brand", receiving the highest ranking of the 50 nations measured. The United States ranks seventh overall behind Germany, France, U.K., Canada, Japan and Italy, respectively. The index is based on a survey in which respondents from across 20 major developed and developing countries are asked to rate their agreement with statements about each nation." GfK Roper, 24 September 2008.

BBC World News to complement U.S. commercial television news.

Posted: 27 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"'BBC World News,' the nightly newscast airing on public TV stations around the country, is 'relaunching' its newscast Oct. 1 and changing its focus to different stories, including U.S. news and the economy from a global perspective. It’s part of a PBS initiative to focus on news coverage that’s not being offered on commercial television." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 September 2008. "BBC World News will now be seen for the first time on six major public television stations: WTTW/Chicago; WQED/Pittsburgh; KUED/Salt Lake City; KRMA/Denver; WCET/Cincinnati; and GPTV/Georgia Public Broadcasting. The station line-up will include improved time periods in such Top 30 markets as: WHYY/Philadelphia; KQED/San Francisco; NJN/New Jersey Network; KCTS/Seattle; WPBT/Miami; WVIZ/Cleveland; WGBH 44/Boston and KERA/Dallas. Specifically tailored for PBS stations, the retooled newscast will feature a new team, new format and new set. Additionally BBC News l content will be accessible through PBS station websites for the first time." KCET press release, 24 September 2008.

Two comments about "pasty-faced" Russia Today.

Posted: 26 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"For true escapism, though, we switch to Russia Today, the Russian rolling news service, where pasty-faced presenters whose accents veer between the Queen's English and Bond villain gravely assure us that Vladimir Putin is the most munificent global figure since Mother Teresa -- before cutting to footage of recently razed Georgian villages. We're not quite sure if we are missing out on the satirical overtones." Ed Power, Independent (Dublin), 26 September 2008.
     "Imagine CNN’s entire news operation being run by a 25-year-old woman fresh from college. Margarita Simonyan was such a person when she was appointed Editor-in-Chief of Russia Today, a state-run English-language news and entertainment TV channel founded in 2005 to present the Russian point of view on events in and outside of Russia. The Kremlin wanted to show the world a prettier face for Russia than the one generally painted by the Western media, so it chose the head for its news channel accordingly. Never mind that Simonyan had little work and travel experience. In her own words, 'Russia needs a visual voice.' And it worked — so far the audience likes what it sees." Florence Gallez, The Tech (MIT), 26 September 2008. How do we know the audience likes what it sees?

Worldspace stock gains altitude.

Posted: 26 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Satellite pay-radio operator Worldspace, at least as this story is written, is saying nothing. But a 24% rise of 36c (to $1.85) on Wednesday, plus another spectacular 38.9% rise in early trading Thursday (to $2.57) suggests that something is happening behind the scenes. We trust the regulator will be looking closely at the trades, which represent a huge volume (148,000 in the first hour) for the company compared to a more usual 86,000 in a day." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 25 September 2008. "Shares of WorldSpace rose in steps throughout most of the session on Wednesday, although it pared its gain slightly in the final 30 minutes of the day. The stock ended the session up 36 cents at $1.85 ... its best level since late-July." RTT News, 25 September 2008. On 26 February, opened at $2.08, closed at $1.92. Worldspace website. See previous post about same subject. See previous post about same subject.

How to recruit an analyst.

Posted: 26 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Story about Sami al-Haj, Al Jazeera cameraman who spent six years at Guantánamo. "In more than 200 interrogations, al-Haj was asked about his employers the Al Jazeera television channel in Qatar. In one session, he says another American said to him: 'After you get out of here, al-Qa'ida will recruit you and we want to know who you meet. You could become an analyst, we can train you to store information, to sketch people. There is a link between Al Jazeera and al-Qa'ida. How much does al-Qa'ida pay Al Jazeera?' ... Many beatings followed." Robert Fisk, The Independent, 25 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.

AJE's "Witness" to USA via Link TV.

Posted: 26 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English’s International Emmy-nominated program Witness will appear weekly in the United States on Link TV, officials said Wednesday. ... Link TV currently reaches 36 million households in the United States on cable and satellite. Al Jazeera English, in contrast, has been struggling to gain U.S. carriage, with only a few launches, including Buckeye CableSystem in Toledo, Ohio, and a municipal cable system in Vermont, Burlington Telecom." Multichannel News, 24 September 2008. "Al Jazeera English, part of the international Al Jazeera Arabic-language news network, hasn’t had it too easy in the United States, where it has encountered suspicion for being — in a word — Arabic." Robert MacMillan, Reuters MediaFile blog, 24 September 2008. See also Link TV website and PBS Wide Angle, 25 September 2008.
     "I remain puzzled that Americans are not so interested in learning more about the rest of the world? The world is big, but it is getting smaller and Al Jazeera English offers both a regional voice and global perspective to world events, emphasizing news from the developing world. I could tell you why I watch it, how much I learn from watching it, how compelling their programming is, the length and depth of their reports on Africa, Latin America and The Middle East. I could tell you that it fills a glaring gap in the mainstream media's lack of coverage of these regions." Ahmed Shihab-Eldin, Arabisto, 17 September 2008.

New international channels for Verizon FiOS TV customers.

Posted: 26 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Verizon FiOS TV is now providing viewers in Maryland and northern Virgina "15 new multicultural channels, including leading channels for Arabic, Portuguese and Russian audiences, among others. These new channels continue to make FiOS TV an outlet for emerging and independent networks to showcase their diverse programming. Much of the multicultural content comes from World TV, a division of content management and delivery company GlobeCast, which previously signed a distribution deal with Verizon for top-tier international channels. The new GlobeCast World TV international television channels include MBT (Arabic), RTPI (Portuguese) and RTR Planeta (Russian). In addition to the World TV content, Verizon will offer Filipino channel GMA Pinoy TV." Verizon press release, 23 September 2008. I could not find MBT in a Google search. Same as MBC?

"Snagging a bewitching shortwave signal from the midnight ether."

Posted: 26 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Nathan Carter's "'Radio Transmission Contraptions' channel a dazzlingly retro vibe through spidery steel armatures reminiscent of Calder's mobiles and brightly colored biomorphic forms that recall Picasso's beach frolickers. A checkerboard zeppelin sprouting flowery appendages juts from one wall; elsewhere, a huge glass-and-steel bird hangs from the ceiling. Although such concoctions could be redolent of some bland 'We are all one' U.N. sculpture circa 1963, Carter's work instead provides the pleasure of snagging a bewitching shortwave signal from the midnight ether." R.C. Baker, Village Voice, 24 September 2008.
     Interview with percussionist Mickey Hart: "Q: And then you use some other unusual electronic instruments onstage, such as the transistor radio. A: Yeah, I use shortwave or AM/FM and I just tune into wherever I am and I process that signal. I use a Kaoss generator and I create sounds that are yet to be born. So that's done in real time, as opposed to prerecorded effects. Q: It's like a form of improvisation with the constant stream of radio information. A: It's found material. It's found art. I'm scanning the radio on stage. I'll pull up a Chinese radio station or maybe something from Siberia or some beautiful political commentator railing against the right or left. Or I'll get the Chipmunks. And all that keeps me in the moment." Ross Simonini, Seattle Weekly, 24 September 2008. If the stage is indoors, shortwave reception could be problematic, unless an outdoor antenna is installed, which, for some reason, I doubt.

Shortwave radios "common" in North Korea?

Posted: 26 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Now that short-wave radios are common in the North, broadcasts from outside should be stepped up." Leader, The Economist, 25 September 2008.
     Part of my day job is to study the media environment in North Korea. We know that some Chinese-built radios with shortwave bands are finding their way into North Korea. And many senior officials have shortwave radios. (See previous post.) But "common" is probably an overstatement. Radio with medium wave (AM) bands are much more plentiful in North Korea. A medium wave relay is key to successful international broadcasting into the country. So far, South Korea has not allowed VOA or RFA relays on medium wave or any other waveband. Other medium wave relay opportunities are farther from North Korea.
     With VOA and RFA both broadcasting five hours per day in Korean, never concurrently, "stepped up" broadcasts would add hours during fringe listening hours, producing diminished marginal returns. A more significant "step up" would be a BBC Korean Service, a language that World Service has so far avoided

The HCJB Global Technology Center builds its last high-powered shortwave transmitter.

Posted: 26 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Shortwave transmitters are built at the tech center on an 'as needed' basis, [manager Charlie] Jacobson said. Demand for high-power transmitters — up to 500,000 watts — has dropped dramatically as Christian broadcasters have discovered satellite and Internet distribution channels. 'We just completed a 100,000 watt high-power shortwave transmitter for Transworld Radio in Swaziland, Africa. Over the years we have built nine of the 100,000 watt models, but we do not have any plans to build any more of them. We continue to build a 1,000-watt shortwave transmitter." Radio World, 24 September 2008.

BBC South Asia broadcaster says shortwave is "dying."

Posted: 26 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with BBC journalist Nayema Mehjoor: "Q:How much of a threat do you think is the visual media to radio broadcasting? NM: If you are talking about short wave radio I will say that it is dying. But if you talk about the FM radio I feel, at present, it is a tool for social and community change and is making progress in every society. ... I thought we have a lot of freedom at BBC but when I see the local media channels of Kashmir, everything is so open and honest; there is no limit to what they say. ... So in this scenario why would someone switch to short wave to listen to BBC? In fact because of these changing trends we are planning to shift to FM radio and television as well to get back our listeners." KashmirWatch.com, 24 September 2008.

Zimbabwe: relays of internationl stations would bring "accolades."

Posted: 26 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Jamming machines that scramble broadcasts from SWRA and VOA Studio-7 must be turned off. The licensing of at least one independent radio station, or local transmission of an international station such as BBC World Service on spare frequencies controlled by ZBC, would bring accolades. Countries as diverse as Uganda, Somaliland, Kenya, Mozambique and South Africa relay BBC radio free-to-air on FM or medium wave." Geoff Hill, SW Radio Africa, 24 Africa 2007.

One year in Niger prison for RFI correspondent (updated again).

Posted: 24 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The London-based Human Rights Group, Amnesty International, Thursday denounced the persecution of a journalist, Moussa Kaka, by Niger authorities, calling again for his 'immediate and unconditional release.' ... Kaka, a correspondent of Radio France international (RFI) in Niger, has been jailed since September 2007 for 'complicity to undermine State authority,' a crime which can carry life imprisonment." Africa en ligne, 18 September 2008.
     "Staff and management at Radio France International on Friday held a demonstration in solidarity with RFI's Niger correspondent Moussa Kaka to demand his release after nearly a year in jail. Kaka was arrested on 20 September 2007 for contacting Tuareg rebels for his reporting work. ... A demonstration outside RFI's studios was attended by RFI journalists and other staff, as well as managing director Alain de Pouzilhac." RFI, 19 September 2008. See also RFI, 18 September 2008.
     "Kaka will no longer face life in prison, but could risk a sentence of one to five years in prison and a fine of 1 to 5 million CFA francs." France 24, 20 September 2008. International Federation of Journalists demands the unconditional release of Moussa Kaka. Afrik.com, 20 September 2008.
     Update: "The head of Radio France Internationale, Alain de Pouzilhac, paid a visit to Niger's President Mamadou Tandja in Niamey on Wednesday to appeal for clemency in the case of Moussa Kaka, RFI correspondent, who has been in detention for over a year." RFI, 24 September 2008.

Burmese still depend on foreign broadcasts.

Posted: 24 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Aung Aye Win ... like many of Myanmar’s 55 million people, relies on international news channels for information. Satellite hookups to Al Jazeera, the BBC and foreign radio stations feed a country starved of access to the outside world. The junta, or State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), sporadically tries to block the channels, which works for a couple of months before the connections quiver back into life. The regime’s English-language newspaper, The New Light of Myanmar ... singles out the BBC as a 'skilful liar attempting to destroy the nation'." The National (Abu Dhabi), 23 September 2008.

Indonesian news agency in strangely described agreement with CRI (updated).

Posted: 24 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Indonesian national news agency ANTARA is welcome to offer its news services to China Radio International (CRI), CRI Deputy Director for English Services Guan Juanjuan said here Friday. ... 'We suggest that you contact or meet CRI`s Indonesia Department, if you want to offer your news services,' she said." Antara News Agency, 19 September 2008. Update: "CRI is in need of news stories on Indonesia from the national news agency because the Chinese radio station has no reporter in Indonesia, CRI`s Indonesia Department Director, Jin Feng, said here Tuesday." Antara, 23 September 2008.

Defending Biden re RFE/RL.

Posted: 23 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Michael Rubin asserted that Mr. Biden told the foreign minister of the Czech Republic a decade ago that 'cutting radio broadcasts into Iran might better encourage dialogue.' Mr. Rubin is wrong. At the time, the Czech government was resisting a U.S. government initiative to use Prague-based Radio Free Europe to broadcast to Iran and Iraq. Mr. Biden told the foreign minister that the Czech government had the right to resist, but if it did, the senator would initiate an effort to move RFE's headquarters to another country." Antony J. Blinken, senior adviser to Obama-Biden campaign, letter to Washington Post, 22 September 2008. See previous post.

World Service: five new partner stations in Kenya.

Posted: 23 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service celebrates the launch of BBC programming on five new FM radio stations in Kenya with a roadshow called Focus On Kenya - Your World, Your Issues. ... The new partner stations rebroadcasting BBC programmes are MMUST 103.9 FM in Kakamega, Sauti Ya Mwananchi 100.9 FM in Nakuru, and Pamoja 99.9 FM, Star 105.9 FM and KU 99.9 FM in Nairobi." BBC World Service press release, 23 September 2008.

BBCWS director in Bucharest to close the Romanian Service.

Posted: 23 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Nigel Chapman, director of BBC World Service, interviewed about the closure of the BBC Romanian Service: "It’s always very difficult to close down a service that has been broadcasting almost 17 years. But the reason in the end is that you have to make a judgment about how far Romania needs the BBC to carry on broadcasting in Romania. ... I have to look at all the other demands on the world service on the BBC to broadcast round the world and make a judgment. I have a fixed amount of money, I have things I need to do on television, radio, new media, projects waiting for Middle East, for the Islamic World, Africa, these areas where the need is greater than in an European Union country like Romania." Adevarul (Bucharest), 22 September 2008. BBC Romanian was actually on the air for 68 years. Perhaps Mr. Chapman was referring to 17 years on FM in Bucharest. See previous post about same subject.

Neon art claims Canada censors Al Jazeera.

Posted: 23 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"A neon sign that reads 'Shame on you' in Arabic now greets students approaching Carleton University's journalism building. The artwork, intended to stir debate about censorship, is designed to resemble the logo of the Arabic television news network Al-Jazeera, said Jamelie Hassan, the artist who crafted it. Hassan will be holding a public dialogue Monday evening at the university about her pieceAl Jazeera and the controversial Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission decision that inspired it. In 2004 the national broadcast regulator ruled that Al-Jazeera could broadcast in Canada, but required companies carrying the channel to monitor it 24 hours a day for offensive content. The apparent unwillingness of any cable company to do so has been blamed for the fact that none carry the network, which has both Arabic and English-language services." CBC News, 22 September 2008.

Venezuela putting together the Radio of the South network.

Posted: 23 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"After the success of Telesur, Venezuela is working today on the Radio of the South project, conceived as a network of interconnected radio stations, unlike the television experience. ... 'It will work as a network, where the radio stations of Venezuela will be connected with their partners in Colombia and these at the same time with Ecuador, Nicaragua and other countries of the continent, just to put an example, to give a cohesive message.'" Prensa Latina, 22 September 2008.

Hausa in international radio.

Posted: 23 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Today Hausa services are provided in foreign broadcast stations like British Broadcasting Corporation, Deuchwelle [Deutsche Welle] of Germany, Voice of America, China Radio International, RFA of France, Egypt Radio amongst others. That is the reason why an illiterate Hausa listener addicted to those foreign broadcast stations can easily disappoint students of international relations in a debate/quiz on global politics." Daily Triumph (Kano), 23 Seoptember 2008.

New clearinghouse for African news video.

Posted: 23 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Salim "Amin is the founder of A24, a new media company that features video from producers around the African continent. When Amin spoke at last year’s TED Africa conference, he was describing the project as a continent-wide news network. His recently-launched website reveals slightly different ambitions - A24, as currently concieved, is a distributor of African-produced video news content for African and global audiences." WorldChanging, 22 September 2008.

Ad-supported France 24 via RealNetworks.

Posted: 23 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Online streaming company RealNetworks has begun delivering ad-supported programming through its Real.com entertainment portal, with French international news service France24 being the first broadcaster to sign up. The inclusion of the ad-supported version of France24, which is available in English, French and Arabic, builds on RealNetworks' SuperPass subscription service, which includes live news streams from broadcasters such as Al Jazeera English, the BBC, CNN International and EuroNews." C21Media.net, 23 September 2008. I can't find France 24 at Real.com.

Two mentions of shortwave in wartime (updated: one more mention).

Posted: 23 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
December 1941: "A curfew was imposed for Japanese-Americans. Traveling more than five miles from their home was prohibited. Their cameras, kitchen knives and short-wave radios were confiscated." Cedar Rapids Gazette, 20 September 2008.
     Wife of Air Force Col. Richard Dutton, whose F-105 was shot over North Vietnam down in November 1967: "I saw him in a photo when a Japanese news photographer took his picture. Then he was on a short wave radio broadcast that other people heard. It was really heartwarming to know he was alive." Northwest Florida Daily News, 19 September 2008.
     Update: Pierre Berg "who grew up in France, was arrested by the Nazis in a horrifying case of 'wrong place, wrong time.' While still a teenager, Berg visited a classmate only to find Gestapo officers there, searching the friend's house. When the officers found a shortwave radio, which they considered a weapon, they arrested Berg and his friend on the spot." Daily Herald (Arlington Heights IL), 22 September 2008.

Zimbabwe: charges against VOA stringer dropped.

Posted: 22 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The state on Tuesday withdrew charges against a civic society activist Peter Muchengeti, who has been facing charges of communicating falsehoods before plea, when he appeared before Gweru magistrate Irvine Mhlanga on Tuesday. Appearing for the state prosecutor Katharine Chisvo told Mhlanga that the state was withdrawing the case against Muchengeti ... due to lack of evidence. The charge against Muchengeti arose from comments that he allegedly made to the Voice of America Radio (Studio 7) through its reporter Patience Rusere. The state had alleged the statement was 'wholly false' in stating that there was a discovery of six bodies at Matshekandumba Village at the 30-kilometre peg along the Gweru-Kwekwe Road." The Standard (Harare), 21 September 2008.

CNN International: less spin than CNN?

Posted: 22 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"They should cancel CNN, switch it to CNN International, which is neutral, it's not progressive, nor conservative, it tends to give the news based on facts, without all the spin from either side." Callisto, The Young Turks, 21 September 2008. Or at least make CNN International in addition to CNN, as it is on FiOS and the many-channeled satellite systems.

Psyop leaflets drop on Minneapolis.

Posted: 22 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
At Minneapolis College of Art and Design's faculty exhibit: "A word of caution: the first piece in the exhibit drops things on you. "If/Then" is a series of six leaflets modeled on those air-dropped by the U.S. military over Iraqi defensive positions and neighborhoods in the early days leading up to the 2003 bombardment. Those flyers presented a how-not-to-die scenario with a child's picture-book simplicity. On an illustration of an anti-aircraft gun firing a round was the printed, in English and Arabic: 'If.' In the next frame a U.S. warplane is firing on the gun's operator next to the text "Then." On the flip side, a ball of flames with the text: 'You decide.' The U.S. 'Psyops,' or Psychological Operations division, started making and dropping leaflets like this all the way back in the '70s. Piotr Szyhalski's 'If/Then' leaflets drop from a machine he invented, mounted high to simulate the U.S. military's air drops." MinnPost.com, 19 September 2008.

New book discusses black clandestine broadcasting of World War II.

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"A new book, Churchill’s Wizards, by broadcaster Nicholas Rankin ... tells how writers, journalists and artists created elaborate camouflages and fiendish propaganda to deceive the Germans in two world wars. In the Second World War the British became masters of these dark arts. ... Among the most brilliant operations were the phoney German radio stations designed to cause chaos and, in particular, greatly lower the morale of both the ordinary German soldier and the population. ... If this 'black' broadcasting was to deceive efficiently then the principal speaker had to be totally convincing – and Der Chef was ideal. He had to sound like a Right-wing, patriotic German who was outraged at the incompetence of many in the Nazi hierarchy who were profiting at home from the massive sacrifices of the decent German ­soldier fighting abroad. ... The idea was that a bored German radio operator – more likely to be military than civilian because only soldiers had short-wave receivers – would pick up a German voice speaking the saucy language of the barracks when he searched the dial one night." Daily Express, 20 September 2008. Red also Black Boomerang, by Sefton Delmer.

Sit your kid in front of the television to watch Al Jazeera.

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"French company Thema TV, specialising in the distribution of theme and ethnic channels to multi-platform operators, has been selected to become the exclusive agent worldwide of Al Jazeera’s Childrens’ Channel. Carried on Arabsat, Nilesat and Eutelsat Hot Bird, JCC is broadcasting 18 hours a day during the week and 19 hours over the weekend and airs six hours of original programming each day, 40% of them produced inhouse or with international partners. Included in the agreement, is future channel Al Baraem that will target the three-to-seven-year-old demographic." Rapid TV News, 21 September 2008.

EuroparlTV will try to counter Eurodisenchantment.

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The European Parliament yesterday (17 September) launched its own online TV channel, EuroparlTV, in an attempt to reverse widespread political disenchantment among citizens ahead of the European elections. ... Translation in particular will absorb more than half the total budget, mainly to pay for 44 full-time translators bringing EuroparlTV to life in 22 languages. Euronews, by comparison, broadcasts in eight languages." EurActiv.com, 18 September 2008.

Satellite-to-mobile in the future of international broadcasting?

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"A new generation of satellites, and spectrum assigned to mobile satellite services, will play a prominent role in the next major development in television and radio broadcasting. New satellite to mobile services will enable relatively rapid roll-outs across major regions of the world. ... The technology has already been proven in Asia and plans for new satellite services are well underway in the United States. ... A combination of satellite and terrestrial transmission will deliver the next generation of television, radio and associated multimedia services to mobile and in-vehicle receivers." informitv, 21 September 2008. The informitv report on this is available for two thousand quid.

Future uncertain for Worldspace and its CEO (updated again).

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"1worldspaceTM announced today that it has reached an agreement in principle with each of the four holders of the Company's amended and restated secured notes and second amended and restated convertible notes to defer until Sept. 25, 2008, the Company's obligation to pay $19.97 million in principal amount of the Bridge Loan Notes, plus accrued but unpaid interest due on the Bridge Loan Notes, which was payable on Sept. 15, 2008. ... Under the agreement in principle, the Company has agreed to use its reasonable best efforts to appoint a Chief Restructuring Officer acceptable to the Holders no later than Sept. 30, 2008. In addition, in connection with the agreement, Mr. Noah Samara has agreed that, in the event all amounts due under the Bridge Loan Notes are not paid by Sept. 25, 2008, he will, if requested by the Holders, step down from his positions as CEO and Chairman of the Board of the Company while remaining as a director of the Company." 1worldspace (formerly WorldSpace) press release, 19 September 2008.
     "Shares of Washington D.C.-based Worldspace Inc. soared [sic] more than 101% to $1.71 Friday after the satellite radio provider announced that it has reached an agreement in principle to defer its debt payment." Stockhouse, 19 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     Update: "Worldspace has already mortgaged just about all of its assets, is not paying staff, and has missed key debt payment obligations." Rapid TV News, 21 September 2008.

International channels to Sri Lanka via IPTV.

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) is to launch its much-talked of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) for the first time in Sri Lanka tomorrow (Monday) with the assistance of UTStarcom headquartered in California, USA, officials said. The official launching of the new service was scheduled for August but it was slightly delayed due to some infrastructure issues. The channels presently available on the SLT IPTV test transmissions are Rupavahini, Channel Eye, ITN, Max, HBO, HBO Signature, HBO Hits, HBO Family, CNN, BBC World, NDTV 24X7, Al Jazeera, Ujala, Peace TV, Spacetoons, Colors, DD Sports, VH1, MTV, Nickolodean, STC, B4U Music, NDTV Good Times, Ceebies [sic] BBC, Zee Music and a few other Hindi channels." Sunday Times (Colombo), 21 September 2008.

The VOA cafeteria is no longer the "Zhivkov."

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The family that operated a cafeteria in the Ford House Office Building for the last 14 years is criticizing House Democrats for its eviction from the space. Members of the Skenteris family argue they never got a chance to put in a bid that would have allowed them to stay in the Ford building. ... [Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-Nev.)]: 'It makes no sense. This is a family-owned business that had been in business here for years. We have got to be out of our minds closing them down and putting a food service in that isn’t even a tenth as good.' The Skenterises moved their food service down the street to the basement of the Voice of America building over the weekend." The Hill, 17 September 2008.
     For decades, we occupants of the VOA headquarters building endured a basement cafeteria that featured indifferent service and even more indifferent food. I dubbed it the "Zhivkov," because it was my idea of what the cafeteria at Radio Sofia must have been like during the depths of the Cold War years. For relief, many of us would walk a block to the Skenteris's cafeteria in the Ford Building, one block away. Now we have the Skenteris food service, while the House staffers have been Zhivkov'ed.

The ladies of the club still think RFE was funded by donations.

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"For half a century, the Woman’s Club of Madison County has supported a variety of local, national and international causes. ... Over the years, the group has donated proceeds from its fund-raisers toward local organizations – such as the rescue squad, fire company and library – as well as to national and international efforts, including Radio Free Europe and the Christian Children’s Fund." Madison County Eagle, 18 September 2008.

Conference of the public diplomacy bloggers.

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
James Glassman, under secretary of State for public diplomacy, convened a teleconference of bloggers to discuss U.S. public diplomacy and especially the State Department competition inviting people around the world to create three-minute videos completing the phrase "Democracy is... ." Participating were Behruz Nikzat of parsloop.com, Patricia Kushlis from Whirledview, John Brown of his revived Public Diplomacy Press and Blog Review, Alex Belida of the VOA News Blog, Sharon Weinberger and Noah Shachtman of Wired Danger Room, Matt Armstrong of MountainRunner, Steve Corman of COMOPS Journal, and Melinda Brouwer of World Public Opinion.org. "Weinberger: You know, what happens if after the video -- the democratic video, someone submits a video supporting, you know, an end of a Jewish state and you know, secular free rights, voting rights for all. I mean, you know, what happens when you get to the advocates of democracy or forms of democracy that fly in the face of U.S. policy, and how does that fit into public diplomacy? ... Glassman: We are doing something that is somewhat risky for a government agency because we’re not picking the winner. We absolutely are not involved in that process. And you know, you could end up with a winner who’s – that is promoting a specific policy that may be antithetical to what the United States Government is promoting, you know, let’s say, in Iraq or in – or as it relates to Palestinians and Israelis. I believe there is a – I think there’s a strict prohibition on terrorist – terrorist videos or violent extremist videos." State Department, 17 September 2008.
     All the important bloggers covering public diplomacy were there. I, of course, was not invited. Didn't even know about it until it popped up in a Google search. Probably just as well, as I don't really think of myself as a "blogger." And I'm planning to remove "public diplomacy" from the title of this website. Other bloggers (such as the aforementioned) do a better and more thorough job of covering the subject. Furthermore, it is my position that if a nation's international broadcasting is to be successful, it must be credible. And to be credible it must be separate from a nation's public diplomacy. And maybe that's why I am not invited to public diplomacy events.

Shortwave radios for an emergency (if there are any shortwave broadcasts to hear).

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"What if, just what if you wake up one day and discover that the U.S. dollar has imploded to half its valuation, then the day after half again, etc.?! ... A battery operated AM/FM/Shortwave radio with a hand crank Faraday type of electromagnetic power supply is in order for your link to what's happening in the outside world." Carl Nemo, Capitol Hill Blue, 19 September 2008.
     South Floridians are providing aid to storm ravaged Haiti, Dominican Republic, and Turks and Caicos. "Among the items needed: nonperishable foods; baby formula; household items, such as cooking utensils; and short-wave radios." Miami Herald, 19 September 2008.

Out: transatlantic shortwave. In: transatlantic 3D HD.

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Arqiva has successfully delivered the world’s first transatlantic 3D High Definition broadcast, at the International Broadcasting Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam. ... Over 1000 delegates watched a live interview with Dream Works Animation SKG CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg on Sunday 14 September. The satellite transmission was uplinked from Los Angeles, USA and transmitted in a single hop via the IS9 satellite owned and operated by Intelsat - Arqiva’s chosen Digital Cinema satellite partner. An Arqiva SNG truck downlinked the signal in Amsterdam, Holland, enabling the IBC audience to experience this world first. ... 'Live 3D High Definition broadcasts add an exciting new dimension to the audience experience and present significant opportunities for live event organisers and exhibitors.'" broadcastbuyer, 17 September 2008.

Remember when your grandparents talked back to the television? This is something like that.

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"NEC Corporation, one of the world's leading IT and network technology companies, is sponsoring an innovative CNN initiative called 'Impact Your World,' a pioneering news format where viewers are empowered with the ability to help resolve issues that effect individuals and countries spanning the globe. 'Impact Your World' begins broadcasting this month on CNN International's global network, reaching more than 230 million households and hotel rooms, in addition to the initiative's web site at www.cnn.com/impact. The program represents CNN's audience empowerment initiative, which allows CNN viewers and users to take action on and respond to the news they consume. With 'Impact Your World,' news is no longer passive, 'Impact' buttons on selected CNN.com stories link people directly to resource pages showing how they can help charitable organizations in categories including 'Refugees & Homelessness,' 'Poverty,' 'Health,' 'Children,' 'Animals' and 'Natural Disasters.'" NEC press release, 19 September 2008.

Report: Turkey's TRT becomes EuroNews partner.

Posted: 21 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) has [become] a shareholder in the pan-European news station Euronews, he announced. With the new partnership, Turkey will have the opportunity to explain its viewpoint on issues throughout the European Union, [Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Cemil] Çiçek said, but gave no further details on the partnership." Today's Zaman via haber27.com, 20 September 2008.

Two new BBC channels to Australia via Foxtel.

Posted: 20 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide – a key FOXTEL subscription television partner – introduces two new channels in Australia. ... CBeebies, the UK's number one children's channel, presents a brightly coloured world targeting pre-school children aged six and under. ... BBC Knowledge ... brings audiences entertainment for the brain with charismatic experts and quality programming." Foxtel press release, 19 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.

BBC World News live on Indian handsets (updated).

Posted: 20 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Reliance Communications today announced that it has entered into strategic alliance with BBC World News for mobile content. RCom has brought out the BBC World News in India through the mobile streaming (unicast) service to the Reliance Mobile users across the country. Through this agreement, Reliance Mobile users can access BBC's trademark, live breaking news and landmark-programming initiatives as they happen directly on their handsets, said a press release." CyberMedia New, 16 September 2008. Update: "Reliance Communications is up 3.09% after the company said it has inked a deal with BBC World News to provide round-the-clock news content for the first time as a mobile streaming service to its subscribers across the country." RTTNews, 19 September 2008.

BBC World Service website, difficult to navigate, provides clearest picture of U.S. election.

Posted: 20 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"It is not a criticism to observe that the BBC World Service’s home page is difficult to navigate. Go to any other site and everything is where it should be – programmes here, presenters there, schedules a click away. But theirs is a small world, after all. The World Service website is a souk: you know what you’re after is there, but you might have to go down some unfamiliar alleys to find it. The programmes, too, are a different breed. For one thing, the World Service makes a little go a long way. While most documentaries are pared to the second, the World Service takes a topic and spreads it over days. The presentation is simple and a bit repetitive. When the world is your audience, putting things in context matters, and that takes time. It says a lot for the quality of the station, though, that series frequently wind up on Radio 4. What you can’t get away from is the air of mission, the idea that everyone who works for the service would do it even if they weren’t paid. For the next few weeks, some of the service’s correspondents are travelling 4,000 miles across 15 of the United States in the grandly named 2008 US Election bus, and reporting on voter issues along the way. Bulletins range from the brief and quirky – the clash between Democrats and Republicans at the Gunfight at the OK Corral, for example – to heavyweight debates. They’re available as podcasts on bbc.co.uk/worldservice. The multimedia bus – which uses radio, the web and television – will also broadcast in 12 foreign languages (Persian, Vietnamese, Spanish, Arabic, Central Asian, Hindi, Urdu, Pashto, Albanian, Russian, French and Swahili), as the World Service links up with US radio stations, universities and community groups. It could provide the clearest picture the world will get of the run for the White House." Chris Campling, The Times, 20 September 2008.

BBC World News reaction to U.S. presidential debates will be cooked to order.

Posted: 20 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"For the first time ever, BBC America will air all four U.S. presidential and vice presidential debates this fall, network officials said Friday. ... 'BBC World News America will take viewers out of the spin room and into the real world,' executive producer Rome Hartman said in a statement. 'While our competitors spend time listening to campaign surrogates spouting pre-cooked claims of "victory" for their candidate, we'll travel around the world to get real reaction from real people who've just watched the debate and made judgments for themselves.'" Multichannel News, 19 September 2008.

Internet "most efficient" source of news.

Posted: 20 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"At lunchtime, or after work if I don't go home for lunch, I read The Adirondack Enterprise, BBC World News, CNN, Groklaw, The Christian Science Monitor, and a couple of tech websites. ... After having access to all the information on the Internet, I couldn't imagine living without it. For me, it's like going to a smorgasbord of news every day. If you crave knowing what's going on, the Internet is certainly the most efficient and comprehensive way to find out. Believe me, I know." Bruce Endries, The Daily Star (Oneonta, NY), 20 September 2008.

"France 24 heads [ahem] roll."

Posted: 20 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"France 24 has announced that chief editor Grégoire Deniau and editor-in-chief Bertrand Coq have been dismissed, with immediate effect. Chief Operating Officer and head of programmes Gérard Saint-Paul has replaced Grégoire Deniau. Not convinced by the reasons given for those two dismissals, professional faults officially, France 24 teams fear a takeover of the direction over the editorial staff after the recent arrival of Christine Ockrent as General Director of holding company France Monde. Ockrent is also the wife of French Minister of Foreign Affairs Bernard Kouchner." Rapid TV News, 18 September 2008. Rapid TV News, 18 September 2008. See also AFP, 20 September 2008. -- Le Point, 17 September 2008. --
Marianne2, 19 September 2008.

You mean they don't teach "bullying, abrupt, top-down" culture in business school?

Posted: 19 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The new managing director of Al-Jazeera English has told his employees that he believes the TV news channel suffers from a 'bullying, abrupt, top-down culture' that 'frequently smothers open debate and discussion.' In an email, seen by MediaGuardian.co.uk, to all staff and contributors working for the English-language channel of the al-Jazeera network, Canadian broadcasting executive Tony Burman claimed the channel needed to create a more 'positive and reaffirming' working culture." The Guardian, 19 September 2008. Presumably unbullied Sir David Frost begins a new season on Al Jazeera English. The Peninsula, 19 September 2008.

Al Jazeera on campus.

Posted: 19 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Earlier this month, Whitman College became the first undergraduate institution in the United States to begin streaming live video of the English version of the Arabic news station, Al Jazeera. The idea for the stream, which airs in Café 66 in the Penrose library, was initiated in part by Dr. Shampa Biswas and Dr. Bruce Magnusson, associate professors of politics, who wanted it as a resource for their 'Politics of the Iraq War' class." Whitman College Pioneer, 18 September 2008. Whitmn College is located in Walla Walla, Washington. See previous post.

CNN launches mobile news site for Asia.

Posted: 19 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International has launched CNNMobile.com, its comprehensive mobile news site across 49 countries and territories in Asia Pacific. It rounds out CNN's 360 degree mobile solution offering, integrating live streaming mobile TV, video on demand content, and SMS breaking news alert services. Available direct to consumers free of charge, it is custom designed to guarantee user-friendly navigation and interaction ensuring that the network's award-winning content can be assessed in a matter of seconds." Televisionpoint.com, 18 September 2008. "CNNMobile.com will include a searchabale 14-day news archive with over 2000 stories.
Besides the platform also automatically detects weather of the country the user is registered in, personalising the delivery of 5-day forecasts, details on air travel delays, and ski reports. ... Users can also access CNN’s ‘In the Field’ blogs to share thoughts and observations of CNN’s journalists on assignment." Indiantelevision.com, 18 September 2008. See also CNN press release, 18 September 2008.

Cyberattacks against Burmese exile websites.

Posted: 19 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Myanmar's military junta has launched a series of crippling cyberspace attacks on dissident websites on the first anniversary of major protest marches by Buddhist monks, the sites said on Friday. The Irrawaddy, a Thailand-based weekly journal and website (www.irrawaddy.org) covering the former Burma, described the online assault as persistent and 'very sophisticated'. ... There were similar outages at the Burmese-language New Era Journal and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) (www.dvb.no) [whose Thailand bureau chief] said the agency's website was only a small part of its reporting operations, and its radio and satellite television stations, both major sources of news inside Myanmar, remained up and running. 'They can't block our short-wave radio and satellite signals.'" Reuters, 19 February 2008. If they can transmit a signal on the uplink frequency, they can block the DVB satellite signal. Shortwave is more difficult to jam, although Burma has previously tried to jam foreign shortwave broadcasts. See also Irrawaddy founder Aung Zaw, Wall Street Journal, 19 September 2008. And DVB and Irrawaddy websites.

New website opposes anti-Americanism at no cost to the American taxpayers.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"I am tired of the prejudice and ignorance of Europeans about America. And I am sad, though not surprised, that the U.S. government's public diplomacy has been so feeble, not to say non-existent. Instead, it has been left to a few lone voices to defend America against the calumnies of its enemies. Notable among these is a new Web site, AmericaInTheWorld.com, which is already up but will be officially launched next month in London. It is the brainchild of Tim Montgomerie, the founder of the most successful political Web site in Britain, ConservativeHome.com, and the polling entrepreneur Stephan Shakespeare. Both are British citizens and receive neither funding nor other support from America." Daniel Johnson, New York Sun, 18 September 2008.

Workshop on corporate diplomacy.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The nation's top business-led public diplomacy advocate and the No. 1 school of global management education are joining forces to help multinational corporations better understand foreign cultures in order to operate more successfully and diplomatically across borders. Keith Reinhard, president of Business for Diplomatic Action, and Dr. Angel Cabrera, president of Thunderbird School of Global Management, today announced the global launch of CultureSpan: A Workshop in Global Corporate Diplomacy. ... The one-day program provides participants with a framework for understanding and working across cultures and building and managing global teams, as well as providing the requisite tools to develop a global mindset. The seminar also emphasizes the important role business plays in U.S. public diplomacy, which is one of BDA's highest priorities." BDA press release, 18 September 2008. The term "corporate diplomacy" is much preferable to "business-led public diplomacy," as public diplomacy is a government activity. A savvy corporation would want to keep its international activities independent of those of its national government. See previous post.

Wins hearts and minds and makes them burp.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Dr. Jami Fullerton at Oklahoma State University spoke 18 September about her "Coca-Cola Hypothesis,” which "suggests there is a connection between attitude toward America and American popular culture. Our data over a number of studies continues to show that young people who tend to like advertising, who are positive about specific ads, who are heavy users of American entertainment media like movies and television, also have a more positive attitude toward America in general. So our hypothesis, and that’s exactly what it is, is can we use the marketing and media savvy of America and leverage that to win hearts and minds overseas? The idea of advertising and public diplomacy, if you will." Stillwater News Press, 17 September 2008. But which causes which?

International television streaming news.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The New Media Group’s next generation IPTV service, World On-Demand, is stepping up its customer communications activity with the launch of a new monthly email magazine. ... The first issue of the World On-Demand e-magazine features an introduction to BBC World News, MTV India, E! and The Style Network; all major content launching on the World On-Demand service this month." openPR, 17 September 2008.
     Video player Livestation, which offers "BBC World, Deutsche Well, France 24, Bloomberg, etc," is the fifth most popular software download from the Apple website. Connected TV, 17 September 2008.

He will manage the bringing together of the BBC's under one roof.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Andy Griffee, currently Controller, BBC English Regions, [is] appointed as Editorial Director, Project W1 with immediate effect. In his new senior role, Andy will lead the co-siting of BBC News, BBC Global News (which includes the BBC World Service and BBC World News) and BBC London, as they join together to form the world's largest live news broadcasting hub, working alongside BBC Audio & Music. He will lead the development of new ways of working and the introduction of new production technology as the different divisions move to the BBC's new Broadcasting House development in Central London by 2012." Media Newsline, 17 September 2008. This is when World Service will move out of the historic Bush House.

International broadcasters cover the U.S. election.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States holds an election and the world holds its breath. Except on world band [shortwave] radio, that is. The leading international broadcasting powerhouses are reporting back to the globe, typically in conjunction with someone actually here in the States. For example, Radio Nederland Wereldomroep (Holland), has Europe Goes to the White House weekly podcast; Deutsche Welle (Germany) has its Across the Pond blog, a German-American joint effort." Clara Listensprechen, Huffington Post, 17 September 2008. And don't forget VOA's usavotes.com.

Shortwave pioneer Radio Netherlands quits shortwave to North America.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Netherlands Worldwide's English broadcasts are available in North America in an increasing variety of different ways. More and more partner stations are taking our programming (a growing number of NPR stations in the US and CBC in Canada) and there are now a variety of satellite options (including Sirius satellite radio). The programmes are also available live, on-demand and via podcast. Shortwave broadcasts to North AmericaRadio Netherlands now feels that the number of alternatives for listeners in North America is such that we have decided to end our shortwave broadcasts to the region. This will take effect from the start of our winter season on 26 October 2008. The decision has been backed up by a recent survey which showed a decline in the number of listeners using shortwave in North America." Radio Netherlands, 18 September 2008. The main negative here is that small battery-powered shortwave radios remain the most portable way to listen to international radio. Radio Netherlands' shortwave signal is almost always good via its Bonaire relay. A shift from shortwave to internet delivery will probably require a shift from audio to text, as the text (with a few still images) of web pages is a much more efficient way to consume information that radio content. However, Radio Netherlands' skills in radio delivery and production will make it worthwhile to listen to some of their programs via the internet.

VOA's audience in Pakistan grows.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America's (VOA) weekly radio and television audience in Pakistan, scene of recent tumultuous political events, nearly doubled over the past year to more than 11 million, or almost 12% of the surveyed population, a new survey shows. ... In a June 2008 survey by InterMedia, researchers found a huge jump – to 6.3% of the adult population from 2.8% – in VOA's Urdu-language radio listenership. The weekly VOA television audience also reached 6% percent, even though the program was shut down for nearly six months after then-Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf suspended the constitution in November 2007." VOA press release, 15 September 2008.

Radio Farda promotes democracy and reports half the news.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty president Jeffrey Gedmin interviewed about Radio Farda: "Our Iranian colleagues believe in our mission to promote democratic values and institutions. ... We seek to provide the news and information that Iranians would have if their government permitted them free, independent media. We do cover some international topics, too. Recently, though, two of our senior colleagues from Farda conducted an exclusive interview with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on American policy toward Iran. It's generally Voice of America, however, that covers news about the United States and U.S. foreign policy." Middle East Quarterly, Fall 2008. So is Radio Farda in the business of promoting or reporting? Also note the reaffirmation of the U.S. concept of international broadcasting, in which target audiences must tune to two U.S. stations to get all the news. This is in contrast to British international broadcasting, in which target audiences need tune only to BBC to get all the news, and where there is no talk of "promoting" this or that.

Remedies for objectionable television. USA: parental controls. Saudi Arabia: death. (updated again)

Posted: 18 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The most senior judge in Saudi Arabia has said it is permissible to kill the owners of satellite TV channels which broadcast immoral programmes. Sheikh Salih Ibn al-Luhaydan said some 'evil' entertainment programmes aired by the channels promoted debauchery. Dozens of satellite television channels broadcast across the Middle East, where they are watched by millions of Arabs every day. ... Given his position as the country's most senior judge, the sheikh's views can not be easily dismissed, says BBC Arab affairs analyst, Magdi Abdelhadi." BBC News, 12 September 2008. See also Arab News, 14 September 2008.
      "In an apparent response to the criticism, Sheikh Lihedan, who is widely known for his conservative views and publicly encouraged Saudis to join Iraqis in fighting US troops in Iraq, issued a 'clarification' yesterday. He insisted that he had not meant to refer to all 'immodest' television programmes, merely to those that broadcast black magic and sorcery." The National (Abu Dhabi), 15 September 2008.
     Update: "This new fatwa could easily hit the Saudi royal family on the back of the neck, given that it is Saudi cash that’s behind Rotana, which broadcasts music films and videos and is owned by Prince Al-Waleed bin Talal." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 16 September 2008.
     Reporters sans frontières "today voiced its deep concern about an upsurge in fatwas (religious decrees) calling for the murder of journalists in the Arab and Muslim world." RSF, 16 September 2008.

Worldspace also finds India to be a difficult target country.

Posted: 18 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The WorldSpace satellite radio service has one of the most conscientious back-office staff I know. Various members from this outfit have called me no less than six times to remind me — in early September — that my subscription will expire in November. At first, I was touched at this early reminder, until it became clear that this concern was bundled with an offer — I would get two months free if I subscribed right now. I turned down the offer several times, explaining that I have an old-fashioned reservation about revealing a credit card number to an unseen service provider on the phone... Despite these conversations, WorldSpace continues to bombard me with SMSs about the offer. Finally, after the sixth call, the penny dropped. Could they then send someone to physically collect the cheque, asked the persistent lady at the other end. WorldSpace’s inability to take no for an answer is easy to understand. The company is in financial trouble. It made losses of $36 million in the second quarter of 2008 on revenues of $3.3 million and is heavily leveraged. Although I hugely enjoy its ad-free 24-hour music service and would like it to survive, WorldSpace’s business model obviously needs critical mass to make it work, especially when it has to compete with free downloads from a whole host of music sites with rich choices." Kanika Datta, Business Standard, 18 September 2008.
     Worldspace (now 1worldspace) CEO Noah Samara interviewed by Radio France Interntional. RFI English, 17 September 2008. Partly transcribed at Jimma Times, 17 September 2008.
     The outcome of an 11 September Worldspace stockholders meeting has not yet been reported, as noted by Rapid TV News, 11 September 2008.
     "Faith Satellite Radio™ is the only faith-based satellite radio service covering both Africa, and Europe. Using the WorldSpace Satellite Radio Network’s AfriStar™ satellite to broadcast digital-quality audio channels to the faith communities in Africa and around the world, programming from Vatican Radio is now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week in areas formerly untouched with Catholic communications." Catholic Online, 17 September 2008.
     See also www.1worldspace.com.

Lamenting the loss of VOA Hindi radio.

Posted: 17 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors has decided that VOA's seven-hour Hindi-language radio service will end this month, after 53 years." But VOA Hindi will continue via television feeds and a website. Washington Post, 12 September 2008.
     "The impending closure of Voice of America's Hindi service on 30 September appears to upset loyal listeners, particularly from the country's Hindi belt, who have been tuned into the service for years now." RadioandMusic.com, 11 September 2008.
     "VoA Hindi will broadcast its final programme on September 30, following which its six-member team - at the centre of over 1,200 fan clubs and catering to nearly 8 million listeners - will fall silent. ... The focus is increasingly on languages like Pashto and Urdu now even though VoA Hindi has a good listenership across South Asia." ANI, 13 September 2008.
     "The Voice of America, more the voice of American government than its people of course has in a review of its priories in the post 9/11 era decided to wind up the fairly popular Hindi service. I suppose that it has in ways outlived its strategic utility. During the Cold War, with the Indian government firmly tilted towards the Soviet Union, the VOA was a helpful tool for the American media to connect with the Indian public. I suppose that with no Soviet Union left today ... the VOA is no longer needed to whisper Uncle Sam’s sweet nothings to Indian ears." Shantanu Dutta, merinews, 16 September 2008.
     "As an epidemiologist, I was an occasional guest on the VOA youth call-in show 'Hello India' when the topic was HIV-AIDS prevention and treatment. I was impressed by the show's reach: Most callers were from rural areas, and their questions and comments were engaging." Sudha Sivaram, letter to Washington Post, 18 September 2008.
     "The two Co-Chairmen of the Congressional Caucus on India and Indian Americans, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), stressed in their letter to the BBG that over 70% of the Indian population lives in rural villages, many with no access to TV or the Internet. They expressed surprise that the BBG wants to terminate VOA Hindi radio at the time when the United States is expanding its strategic partnership with India. They asked the BBG to allow VOA Hindi radio broadcasts to continue." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 16 September 2008.
     "The administration's relentless disassembling of one of the most effective and cost-efficient US tools of cultural diplomacy seems to have gone unnoticed by either presidential campaign. The candidates should be asked what they would do to revive the VOA." Doug Ramswey, Rifftides, 13 September 2008.
     India has always been a difficult target country for VOA. BBC has traditionally had a much larger audience. This is because of BBC's superior ability to gather news from South Asia. And because BBC delivered a better signal from its transmitters in Oman (including some medium wave coverage) and Singapore. VOA had to reach India from farther-off Greece and the Philippines, plus three comparatively low powered (35 kilowatt) transmitters in Sri Lanka. It was not until the 1990s that VOA acquired higher powered shortwave transmitters in Sri Lanka. By then, the popularity of shortwave was waning.
     Typically, international broadcasters have responded to the decline of shortwave by placing their programs on FM stations in the target country. In India, news is not allowed on privately owned shortwave stations. Because of this, BBC Hindi programs heard on Indian FM stations include the likes of Ek Mulaqat, "a weekend talk show where famous people chat about the other side of their lives--from childhood stories, teenage trivia, hobbies, passions to little known facts about themselves." The idea is that BBC will have a foot in the door of the Indian FM market if and when news finally is allowed.
     VOA has generally been uncomfortable with programs that do not include news and current affairs "freight," so it is not following the BBC in placing lighter fare on Indian FM stations. There might be an opportunity here for an Indian-American private broadcast entrepreneur.
     BBC has, for regulatory reasons, been slow to develop international television in languages other than English. VOA, on the other hand, has been an early adopter of international television in several languages. Despite vigorous marketing efforts, VOA Hindi's television placement consists only of a weekly report on India's Aaj Tak channel.
     Still, that weekly placement yields a weekly audience rate of 0.6% (according to a 2007 survey in India), compared to 0.7% for a daily hour of shortwave radio in Hindi. BBC has a weekly audience of 5.4% in India, down from 11.9% in 2006.
     Television seems to be the route to success for international broadcasting to India. However, free access to Indian television will be increasingly elusive. Money to pay for that time will be required.

Al Jazeera still trying to enter India.

Posted: 17 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Tony Burman, managing director of Al Jazeera English, during recent visit to New Delhi: "If you look at our coverage with respect to BBC or CNN, a lot of people would argue that there is actually less bias. What is amazing about Al Jazeera English up to this point is that it is distributed in more than 120 million homes worldwide already. It isn’t, sadly, distributed in India yet. But we are determined to obtain the licences as soon as possible and make that happen because of the importance of India and also because that would allow us to increase the coverage of India." livemint.com, 14 September 2008.

BBC promotes its radio programs in India (updated).

Posted: 17 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"In another first from the BBC in the India market, BBC World Service is kicking off a campaign for three of its radio programmes. ... ‘BBC Ek Mulaqat’, ‘BBC Ek Minute’ and ‘BBC Take One’ air in the 13 cities where BBC World Service has partnered with FM stations. BBC would use print, radio and on-ground activities for the campaign. ... 'Our aim is also to reach out to new listeners and show what BBC is up to in the FM market.'" exchange4media.com, 10 September 2008. The tag line could (but won't) be: "everything but the news." News is still not allowed on non-AIR FM stations in India.
     Update and to wit: "Director-turned-actor Farhan Akhtar is to feature on BBC Radio's BBC Ek Mulakat. BBC Ek Mulaqat is a weekend talk show where famous people chat about the other side of their lives--from childhood stories, teenage trivia, hobbies, passions to little known facts about themselves." businessofcinema.com, 15 September 2008.

The BBG's politics re VOA Russian.

Posted: 17 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Last week, a Republican BBG member, radio journalist Blanquita Cullum, had requested a vote on resuming VOA broadcasts in Russian and suspending plans to stop broadcasts to other countries, including Georgia and Ukraine. Ted Kaufman was one of the BBG members who refused to put the proposal to a vote, rejecting arguments that the earlier decision to terminate the broadcasts was wrong and that their resumption would send a strong message to Mr. Putin." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 15 September 2008. See previous posts on 12 September and 6 September 2008. Would be interesting to hear the debate on this issue, but the supersecret Broadcasting Board of Governors has never had an open meeting.

New Belarusian program for Television Free Europe/Television Liberty.

Posted: 17 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has launched a new half-hour television program aimed at Belarusians who have come to rely on RFE/RL for uncensored news and information about their country. The new program, called 'This Week with Svaboda (Liberty),' airs on the Warsaw-based BelSat satellite channel. Hosted by RFE/RL's Belarusian Service Director, Alexander Lukashuk, and produced at RFE/RL headquarters in Prague, the show features a roundtable, debate-style format focusing on a wide range of social, political, and cultural issues in Belarus." RFE/RL press release, 15 September 2008.
     "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Belarus Service remains a leading international broadcaster, providing programming in the Belarusian language. The Service's new television program has recently been placed on a Polish-led, satellite television channel. In addition, Voice of America broadcasts are available in Russian to audiences in Belarus." David J. Kramer, assistant secretary of State for democracy, human rights and labor, statement before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, State Department, 16 September 2008. Actually, VOA Russian radio broadcasts have already been taken off the air, leaving only an internet service. No longer a prisoner of its name, RFE/RL is becoming more active television. Television was one of VOA's competitive advantages in its rivalry with RFE/RL, but apparently no longer.

Moving U.S. outreach to a higher brow.

Posted: 17 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Arab tradition has a tremendous respect for serious culture, for classicism and philosophy, a tradition that antedates the Koran by millennia. It may seem elitist to us--democracy, after all, is about numbers not elites--but we are dealing with a tradition that values elders, erudition and the hierarchy of wisdom. Imagine if we were to distribute boxes full of Mark Twain in translation and show Tom Stoppard on television. The mullahs would get a diet of William James' religious experiences, and the young women Virginia Woolf. In the fight against barbarism, why not awe them with ideas? As it stands, if we don’t show the best of what we are, we’re building a democracy that might freely vote against us." Melik Kaylan, Forbes.com, 15 September 2008.

On the strategic shift in U.S. public diplomacy.

Posted: 17 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"While winning hearts and minds would be an admirable feat, the war of ideas adopts the more immediate and realistic goal of diverting impressionable segments of the population from the recruitment process. Ideological engagement comes down to a contest of visions." Under secretary of State for public diplomacy James Glassman, The Independent, 16 September 2008.
     "It is a rather convenient shift in focus given alarming signs that negative views of the US persist. ... When public opinion views the US as a bigger threat than Iran, attempts by governments in the region to join Washington in deepening Tehran’s isolation are undermined." Roula Khalaf, Financial Times, 15 September 2008.
     See also Countering Terrorism forum at the George Washington University, with James Glassman et al, C-Span, 15 September 2008. And previous post about the same subject, including the video of the BBC HARDtalk program while it is still available.

Trying to fit together the BBC world services.

Posted: 17 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Feature story about Richard Sambrook, director of BBC Global News: "It was once simple - on one hand the World Service on radio and, since 1995, a (loss-making) commercial TV arm on the other - but the lines have blurred. Both have launched a string of online and mobile companions - funded by ads in the case of BBC.com/news and not in the case of the World Service spin-off language websites. 'Part of my job is to work out how the jigsaw fits together,' says Sambrook." The Guardian, 15 December 2008.

BBC US08 Election bus traveling the route of the old VOA Voyager.

Posted: 17 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
The BBC World New US08 Election bus tour has embarked because "the world has a high level of interest in the upcoming U.S. presidential election. Having the bus tour interview segments of Americans across the country gives listeners and viewers a glimpse of how voters think." yourwestvalley.com, 15 September 2008. See also BBC World News press release, 22 July 2008. Reminiscent of the VOA Voyager, built in 1985. "But the Voyager was costly to operate, and after nearly a decade its traveling days came to an end."

This year's Doha Debates debate Arab democracy.

Posted: 16 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The fifth series of the Doha Debates is set to commence this evening with a debate on the issue of democracy in the Middle East, chairman Tim Sebastian announced yesterday. The Qatar Foundation-sponsored programme, which is based upon the model of the world-famous Oxford Union Debates, continues to grow in popularity, and this year the team has promised to tackle more controversial issues with a tougher stance. After becoming the top-rated weekend programme on BBC World News, Doha Debates has been rebranded with a focus on the 'power of words,' declaring them to be the 'only weapon' able to change minds and bring about change." Gulf Times, 16 September 2008. "Doha Debates will launch its fifth series today debating the motion 'This House Believes progress towards democracy has halted in the Arab world.'" The Peninsula, 16 September 2008. See also BBC World News Doha Debates web page.

MBC programs available on-demand, worldwide.

Posted: 16 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Regional [Arab] broadcaster MBC has teamed up with UAE telecom operator Etisalat to provide a free-of-charge video-on-demand service which will allow busy viewers to catch up on their favourite TV shows via the internet. The service, which is enabled by Etisalat technology, features MBC’s top nine programmes - all of which are only available in Arabic - on the www.mbc.net portal. ... MBC, which claims to be the number one broadcaster in terms of TV viewership during Ramadan, has reported strong interest in the platform since it was launched last Wednesday. It says it has recorded around 80,000 views per day, 'mainly from Saudi Arabia and Gulf countries', though the service is available worldwide to anyone with a good connection." 7Days (Dubai), 15 September 2008.

Al Jazeera in the news.

Posted: 16 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"After a plight largely ignored by the international media, Sami al-Hajj, the Al Jazeera cameraman held in Guantanamo Bay ... was invited to Toronto in October to receive the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) International Press Freedom Award." journalism.co.uk, 16 September 2008.
     "There's a decoupling in the wind, America is essentially finished as a global economic power. The US dollar is now finished as the world's reserve currency and we are going to see now some other country rise up and take its place, most probably China." Financial analyst Max Keiser, interviewed by Al Jazeera English, 15 September 2008.
     Al Jazeera "covered both major political conventions, but it must clear an additional hurdle with the party that established the Guantanamo Bay detention camp and warrantless wire-tapping. In a secret meeting in 2004, President Bush discussed the possibility of bombing Al Jazeera’s broadcast headquarters in Qatar to halt its coverage of the Iraq War. ... Except for the confiscation of some Al Jazeera coffee mugs by [Republican] convention security, the news organization’s stay in St. Paul was largely uneventful." Twin Cities Daily Planet, 15 September 2008.
     "Personally, I believe that Al Jazeera English delivers higher quality than CNN; the coverage may also be biased, but I generally find it to be less biased than CNN International and, not unimportant, they cover issues CNN does not; those issues are important nonetheless." Michael van der Galien, PoliGazette, 16 September 2008.

Al Qaeda 9/11 message hacked?

Posted: 16 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"One important event this past September 11 went unnoticed. Al Qaeda had earlier promised an important video release on September 11. But the video, thought to be a rant from some senior al Qaeda official (maybe even bin Laden), never showed up. There are two possible reasons for this. First, there is the recent dismantling of the al Qaeda Internet media operation (mostly in Iraq, but in other countries as well.) ... Second, there's the growing war by anti-terrorist hackers (individuals and groups) to shut down pro-terrorist web sites." Strategy Page, 15 September 2008. In recent history, and still to some extent, groups such as Al Qaeda would have used clandestine shortwave stations to disseminate their messages. Such broadcasts could be jammed, but with more difficulty than the hacking of websites today.

Time again for the DW BOBs.

Posted: 16 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Over the next four weeks, Internet users can nominate exceptional Weblogs at www.thebobs.com. Deutsche Welle is also proud to announce that the Indonesian language has been added to the BOBs [Best of Blogs], bringing the total number of languages to 11 and the total categories to 16 (Arabic, Chinese, German, English, Farsi, French, Indonesian, Dutch, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish). The BOBs are the largest international Weblog awards and offer a thorough overview of the rapidly growing online scene of Weblogs, videoblogs and podcasts. Last year alone, 7,000 blogs, podcast and videoblogs were nominated and over 100,000 people voted for their favorites online. Awards are decided both by an international jury of media experts and bloggers and through online voting." DW press release, 9 September 2008. See also the BOBs website.

BBC and DW to Europe via DRM digital shortwave.

Posted: 16 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Two of the world's major international broadcasters, BBC World Service and Deutsche Welle, have announced plans to launch a joint radio service to Europe on DRM Shortwave. The new stream, which will be entirely in English, is expected to go live in early 2009. Broadcast in clear digital quality, it will be available from early morning till late at night targetting Western and Central Europe... The service will provide a multimedia offer of audio and text, the latter coming automatically from the BBC News website." BBC World Service press release, 16 September 2008. Same as Deutsche Welle pres release, 12 September 2008.
     With BBC recently removed from the FM dial in Sofia (see previous post, including my comments), and reportedly soon to be off FM in Saxony (see previous post), Digital Radio Mondiale shortwave as a means to cover all of Europe may be an increasingly attractive option for World Service. Pity that few people have DRM receivers, or that few DRM receivers are even available for sale. But if there are to be early adopters for DRM, they would be in Europe. Furthermore, while DRM has not been especially successful in being received over long distances and when interference is present, intra-European circuits will probably work, most days.

BBC, RFI leaving the Saxony FM dial?

Posted: 16 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Kai Ludwig saw a report in Sächsische Zeitung, 15 September, (not available online) that BBC World Service and Radio France International will sell their licenses for the FM frequencies that they share in Saxony. The frequencies will be sold to Berlin-based Radioropa. The frequency in Dresden in 91.1 MHz. Programming on the frequency includes BBC World Service English and RFI German and French.

Recalling Soviet jamming and efforts to overcome it.

Posted: 15 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Article about the Echo of Moscow radio station mentions that beginning in the 1950s "the Soviet regime took great care to jam the Russian-language broadcasts of the BBC, the Voice of America, Radio Liberty, and Deutsche Welle. Jamming was an ongoing battle between state and subject. Especially in the sixties and seventies, urban intellectuals typically committed their first anti-Soviet act by purchasing a decent radio—either a Soviet Latvian-made Spidola or, if possible, a German-made Grundig—and attempting to listen to the 'foreign voices.' They would try anything to catch an aural glimpse of the world beyond, turning the radio sideways or upside down to get a signal or sticking the antennas out the window; better yet, they escaped from the big cities to the surrounding dacha communities, where the jamming was less effective. The fortunate listener caught some foreign news on Deutsche Welle, the Beatles on the BBC, Willis Conover’s famous jazz broadcasts on VOA." David Remnick, New Yorker, 22 September 2008 issue.

Putting lipstick on a bear (updated).

Posted: 15 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Anatoly Adamishin served as the last deputy to the Soviet foreign minister during the time of Eduard Shevardnadze. ... In Adamishin's opinion, for most Russians, the issue of image is non-existent. 'They think all the people in the West are Russophobes, and there's no point to investing in information,' he says. But, he adds that 'the intelligentsia and the decision-makers have a different point of view. They understand, and more, the importance of Russia's international image. That is why they set up state-run TV channels in English and Arabic, and also why they set up the Valdai Forum' (a series of meetings organized by the Kremlin to woo Western pundits). Indeed, the fact is that ultimately the Russian leaders were sent to carry out a media blitz that included not only CNN but also Al Jazeera, the BBC, the French TFI channel and the state English-language channel, Russia Today." Ha'aretz, 11 September 2008.
     Update: "In the Georgia-Russia war, public-relations and public-diplomacy experts marvel at the preparation and effectiveness of Georgia’s media 'blitzkrieg.' As soon as Russia counterattacked with tanks and troops, Georgia President Mikheil Saakashvili went on the media offensive, logging five hours of airtime on global news stations in just a few days. ... There are lessons in Russia’s experience for U.S. policymakers and citizens, lessons involving the limits of pure military power and the importance of what might be called a nation’s 'brand.'" Jay Bookman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 15 September 2008.

Who would have thought? International broadcasting as a profit center.

Posted: 14 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"As some of the established UK media companies look at double-digit advertising falls, and move to cut costs and jobs, CNBC revenues for Europe, the Middle East and Africa are 39 per cent ahead year-on-year so far in 2008. ... CNBC, which this month celebrates its 10th anniversary, can apparently buck the dismal trends in the media because it is international – and because its target audience is largely the upmarket men whom advertisers still want to reach, even in recessionary times. For advertising purposes, the company says it only measures viewers who are in the top 20 per cent income bracket. ... CNN International is also enjoying some of the benefits of being an international broadcaster targeting decision-makers in many countries. Jonathan Davies, executive vice- president of CNN International News Advertising Sales, says he is 'cautiously optimistic' that the company's double-digit revenue growth achieved over the past five years will continue this year. There is optimism but still with a note of caution because one never knows how things will turn out. We are not tied into the fortunes of any one market. There are opportunities for us which there probably aren't for the ITVs of this world. The Middle East, China and India are all booming markets.'" The Independent, 14 September 2008.

Afghanistan: UK tries radio to quell violence.

Posted: 14 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"On August 21, Gordon Brown signalled that the British government is taking one new initiative seriously - establishing dialogue with local people through radio funded by the UK's Department for International Development. The objective is ultimately to convince Afghans that the future lies not with violence but with negotiated settlements to the myriad of problems which are fuelling the current conflict. ... Will this approach win heart and minds? The precedents are encouraging: Voice of America, broadcasting to the lawless North West Frontier of Pakistan, has transformed its listening figures with a daily phone-in programme. After centuries of being marginalised through oppressive social and political structures, the Pakistani Pashtuns can at last speak their minds on a range of topics in the safety of anonymity - and they have seized it with enthusiasm. ... And in Afghanistan, the evaluation of the BBC soap opera New Home New Life's long-running story on the landmine dangers showed that non-listeners were twice as likely to be injured or killed by landmines than listeners." Gordon Adam, Sunday Herald (Glasgow), 14 September 2008.

Barack Obama looks older on shortwave.

Posted: 14 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Ingrid Betancourt, recently freed captive of FARC in Colombia: "Q: A lot has happened in the world in the last seven years. I imagine, there’s a lot of catching up to do. Betancourt: Yes, of course: there are some gaps to be filled here and there. I needed help getting accustomed to the new computer programs, for instance. But thanks to the shortwave radio I was able to follow developments around the world. I just wasn’t able to put any pictures together with the news. For example, Barack Obama looks much younger than I imagined." Die Weltwoche, 12 September 2008.

BBC's highly placed audiences.

Posted: 14 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Robert Mugabe's "former press secretary – speaking to the UK press for the first time – has revealed that Wimbledon, cricket and the BBC World Service are among the few indulgences Mugabe permits himself. ... He also spoke of how the one-time liberation hero was hooked on the BBC World Service. 'Mugabe admired Britain and the BBC very much, but that changed when the British journalists started reporting what was actually happening in Zimbabwe.'" The Scotsman, 14 September 2008.
     "A big upgrade is under way for the cable-TV system to which those who toil in [the U.S.] Congress are privy. Soon, the number of cable channels available to the 535 offices will reach 54 -- about 19 more than they have now. Many of the channels, new and old, have at least a nominal connection to the job of legislating -- C-SPAN 1, 2, 3; CNN and its rival cable news networks; the NASA channel; Pentagon TV; the Weather Channel; even BBC World." Scripps Howard, 12 September 2008.

Radio Martí, the hurricane bad-news station.

Posted: 13 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"With expanded newscasts and extensive coverage, Radio Martí reports on the damage of Hurricane Ike are filling the information gap left by Cuban government media. 'Thanks to the staff of Radio Marti. The station has been the source of information on Hurricane Ike since Cuban media is not reporting about the damages,' said Jose Triero, independent journalist from Holgium, one of the most affected cities in Cuba." Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 10 September 2008. VOA reports on Ike's impact in Texas. VOA News, 13 September 2008.

Major League Baseball: international broadcaster.

Posted: 13 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Intelsat ... has announced that Major League Baseball International (MLBI) signed a contract for international distribution to its rightsholders in Asia, Europe and Latin America, providing local viewing access to games and highlights of the upcoming season. Standard and high definition feeds of the League’s games will be transmitted into Asia, Europe and Latin America using five Intelsat satellites." Indiantelevision.com, 11 September 2008.

Reviving Letter from America. But how to replace Alistair Cooke?

Posted: 13 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
BBC "Radio 4 is planning a replacement for Letter From America, the late Alistair Cooke's weekly dispatch from across the Atlantic. Cooke presented the much-loved show for more than half a century, until his death, aged 95, in 2004. Station executives believe the time is right for another regular series offering opinions and insights on life in the United States." The Telegraph, 11 September 2008. LFA was also a staple of BBC World Service, although not always included in transmissions directed to North America, on the assumption that the talks were more of interest to those outside the United States. Incorrect assumption: American shortwave listeners counted LFA among their favorite programs.

New twist in China/DW contretemps.

Posted: 13 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Germany's Focus magazine threatened China's official Xinhua News Agency with legal action Friday if it does not retract a story saying a Focus reporter had a 'Falun Gong background' and another calling the magazine's methods akin to those of the Nazis. Focus spokesman Uwe Barfknecht said if Xinhua does not retract the articles and agree not to repeat the allegations the Munich-based magazine would pursue a court order forcing them to do so. The Xinhua articles in question were written in reaction to a report in Focus before the Olympics. The Focus story described a radio report by a Chinese-born journalist for Germany's government-funded Deutsche Welle that praised China's Communist Party." AP, 12 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Ethiopian jamming specialist among "most influential."

Posted: 13 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Among "25 most influential" Ethiopians: "Bereket Simon, propagandist. He is chief of propaganda for the Woyanne tribal junta. ... Bereket is responsible for controlling the flow of information in Ethiopia. He is behind the blockade of Ethiopian news web sites such as EthiopianReview.com, the jamming of Voice of America, DW and other radio broadcasts to Ethiopia, the shutting down of most of the private newspapers in the country, and the jailing of journalists and editors. Bereket has paid a huge amount of money to the Chinese government to jam the VOA daily broadcasts to Ethiopia. VOA countered by launching more powerful frequencies. VOA continues to be heard through out Ethiopia clearly, despite desperate efforts by Chinese engineers to jam it. VOA also exposes the paradox of U.S foreign policy toward Ethiopia. On the one hand, the U.S. Government allows the VOA, which is under the supervision of the State Department [sic], to expose Woyanne's injustices. On the other hand, it continues to give political, diplomatic and financial support to the Woyanne regime." Ethiopian Review, 12 September 2008.

Uzbek stringer for RFE/RL, VOA on trial.

Posted: 13 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Uzbek authorities should drop all charges against an independent journalist facing politically motivated prosecution and release him, Human Rights Watch said today. Salijon Abdurakhmanov, a journalist known for his critical reporting of the authorities, goes on trial on September 12, 2008, in Nukus, the capital city of Karakalpakstan, an autonomous republic in Uzbekistan. ... He worked closely with UzNews, an independent online news agency, and also freelanced for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Voice of America and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting." Human Rights Watch, 12 September 2008.

Egypt may impose more broadcasting restrictions.

Posted: 13 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Egypt's parliament is due to examine a new broadcasting bill in November that ... calls for new prison penalties of between one month and three years and would make it possible for reporters to be prosecuted for 'attacking social peace, national unity, public order and society's values.' ... In Egypt, TV stations that want to transmit via the Nilesat beacon -- the most widespread satellite network in the country -- must obtain Cairo's approval. Already, programs are being banned, the most notable of which was a series by American government-funded Al Hurra network on youth and democracy in Egypt. The program 'Youth and Politics' was to be shown as part of the region-wide 'Eye on Democracy' series." Middle East Times, 12 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.

English-language website provides Russia's take on South Ossetia.

Posted: 12 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Public Investigation Commission in South Ossetia has launched an English-language version, the head of the committee said Friday. The new site, at www.osetia-war.com [sic: should be www.ossetia-war.com], is supported by the Russia Today international news channel and provides information on the process and results of the investigation into Georgia's attack on South Ossetia on August 8." RIA Novosti, 12 September 2008. See also www.russiatoday.com/ossetianwar. For the Georgian perspective, see the President of Georgia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, and Georgia Public Broadcasting websites.

CNN International taps into cross-platform audience research.

Posted: 12 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International is hoping to steal a march on its advertising rivals after becoming the first European media owner to subscribe to a continent-wide survey on cross-platform audience behaviour. The Digital Life survey gathers audience behavioural habits across TV, online and mobile devices from nearly 5,000 people across 19 European countries. Combined data from the digital European Media Survey and Pax reveals that nearly a fifth of CNN viewers, 17.9% of the audience, regularly listen to podcasts and 33.4% listen to radio online." The Guardian, 12 September 2008.

Imagine a radio purchased in France that works in Germany.

Posted: 12 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"WorldDMB and the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) have announced a major step in achieving a unified digital radio market for Europe with the publication of a set of minimum features and functions for all digital radio receivers, known as the WorldDMB Digital Radio Receiver Profiles. ... The announcement will ensure that digital radios bought in France, for example, also work in Germany, Italy or Norway and vice versa, and will apply to any country in Europe or beyond using the WorldDMB Eureka147 Family of Standards." broadcastbuyer, 12 September 2008. For decades, analog radios purchased in one country have been able to work (at least on medium wave) anywhere in the world. With competing digital standards (Digital Radio Mondiale is not mentioned in any of these recent announcements), such universality of digital radios is not assured.

VT offer would allow small radio stations to become international radio stations.

Posted: 12 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
VT Communications, orginally the BBC World Service transmission department, "is offering what is described as a 'Taste of Digital' and allowing small to medium sized radio broadcasters the chance to test their programmes on digital platforms over a three-month period." Includes: "Scheduled 'live' streaming of the show from the broadcaster’s website to its audience around the world, cost effectively capturing a new and geographically diverse audience." Rapid TV News, 11 September 2008.

Internet to the "other 3 billion," via satellite.

Posted: 12 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Google has thrown its weight behind ambitious plans to bring internet access to 3bn people in Africa and other emerging markets by launching at least 16 satellites to bring its services to the unconnected half of the globe. The search engine has joined forces with John Malone, the cable television magnate, and HSBC to set up O3b Networks, named after the 'other 3bn' people for whom fast fibre internet access networks are not likely to be commercially viable. ... O3b, headquartered in Jersey, the Channel Islands tax haven, will focus on signing up communications operators, including clients of HSBC, in emerging markets across Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. It could also supply satellite dishes in more developed markets such as Mexico, where bandwidth remains expensive in rural areas" Financial Times, 9 September 2008.
     "Everything I've ever read or heard on the subject predicted that cellular service would be the technology to bring Internet to poor people in poor nations. The Financial Times and The Wall Street Journal both ran stories about 03B today, but neither of them really addressed whether the company expects poor people to be able to afford its service and why it is using satellites rather than conventional wireless technology. Anyone have an explanation?" Andrew Smith, Dallas Morning News blog, 9 September 2008.
     "Most of today's developed countries are linked by thousands of kilometers of submarine fiber optic cables to carry core Internet traffic. This is a very cost-effective solution, once the fiber is in place; but in many developing and remote areas, fiber isn't available due to economic and sometimes political roadblocks. Though existing geo-synchronous satellites are able to reach theses areas, they provide slow Internet connectivity because of their distance from the Earth - and they're expensive and often fully subscribed. O3b plans to deliver fiber-like Internet backhaul service using a constellation of medium-orbit satellites." Larry Alder, Google Public Policy Blog, 11 September 2008. Will internet users in Africa and elsewhere connect directly to these MEO satellites? Or through a local wireless or wired network?

Sticking pins in the BBG voodoo doll.

Posted: 12 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The [Broadcasting Board of Governors], which manages U.S. taxpayer-funded broadcasts to countries without free media, has just launched its new website, which shows on its 'Home' page a picture of Buddhist monks, a flashy promotional video, and the slogan: 'Bringing News and Information to People Around the World in 60 Languages.' For those who are familiar with the BBG’s record of foreign policy blunders and are concerned about media freedom, the Buddhist monks picture tells a tale that is greatly at odds with the advertising look of the new government website. The same bipartisan body of two women and four men -- three Democrats and three Republicans, including the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice -- had tried earlier to reduce the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) news radio programs to Tibet and China." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 10 September 2008.
     "Instead of continually trying to destroy VOA, the BBG should be reconstituted as the pillar of American public diplomacy, with a new U.S. Information Agency-style umbrella." Vello Ederma, letter to the Washington Times, 8 September 2008.
     The Broadcasting Board of Governors is, lately, even more unpopular than usual. But it is the BBG's job to make unpopular decisions about the reduction or elimination of old, revered international broadcasting services and media technologies.
     Furthermore, U.S. international broadcasting cannot succeed without credibility. It cannot achieve credibility without autonomy. It cannot be autonomous unless it is under a bipartisan board, whose members have fixed and staggered terms. The board, rather than the government, hires and fires top executives and makes other key decisions. Dissolving the BBG might provide job security for some in the short term, but it will lead to failure in the long term.
     As for Tibetan, I think the BBG has been trying to bring the number of hours back down to the capabilities of the VOA and RFA Tibetan services. Adding hours to a language service has diminishing returns when those hours are during mid-day or overnight hours, when few people listen to foreign broadcasts.
     Having two U.S. Tibetan services with overlapping content, competing with each other for scarce resources, goes beyond diminishing returns: it's downright counterproductive.
     Having to find money for the flavor-of-the-month languages of the Muslim countries, BBG is eliminating costly duplication of VOA and RFE/RL to the Russia and the rest of the former Soviet Union by reducing VOA to internet-only rump services in the affected languages (or in the case of Georgian, eliminating the VOA service altogether).
     This leaves RFE/RL, which is very good at covering target country news, but not as good as VOA in covering world news and Washington reaction. VOA could provide these services to RFE/RL (precedent: VOA's old German Service was essentially the Washington bureau of RIAS, the U.S. broadcasting service in West Berlin directed to East Germany). But this probably won't happen because VOA and RFE/RL, though funded by the same government, are archrivals. They would never admit it, but each is wholeheartedly and enthusiastically devoted to the compete and utter elimination of the other.
     The rationalization of U.S. international broadcasting cannot be brought through the back door by reducing VOA services to websites. The BBG must stand up and speak out for a real consolidation into a single organization, capable of producing the correct mix of content and media to suit each target country, and of adjusting that mix as conditions in the target country change. The BBG should promote this to the next administration, to Congress, and to all interested publics.
     This might be difficult for the BBG, as one of its first acts was to support, though the creation of Radio Free Asia, the de-consolidation of U.S. international broadcasting. To be sure, RFA is a very good international broadcasting service. But it duplicates the very good East Asian services of VOA. East Asia is a vast, mostly closed region. It is very difficult to get news out of, and to get broadcast signals into, East Asia. The division of scarce international broadcasting resources between two competing stations has had a devastating impact on U.S. international broadcasting.
     For international broadcasting Russia, Georgia, and the rest of the former Soviet Union, audiences there are no longer huddled around their shortwave radios. They are watching television. Television, as in many times more expensive and complicated than radio. With resources divided between VOA and RFE/RL, success for U.S. international radio broadcasting has been problematic. Without organizational reform, success in international television broadcasting is out of the question.
     As for the resumption of a U.S. Information Agency-style "umbrella," this is an idea heard often these days. Back during the decades that VOA was under USIA, USIA pulled VOA in the direction of policy advocacy, while VOA's audience and its own newsroom wanted an objective, balanced news service. This left VOA as the platypus duckbill of international broadcasting, its mammal part doing the news, its bird part doing propaganda. A VOA subservient to a reconstituted USIA would really lay an egg.

RFE/RL versus Radio Moscow.

Posted: 11 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
The Modern History of Russia, 1945-2006: A Teacher's Handbook "explains, the United States 'unleashed an ideological war' whose 'main tool' was Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. (And yet Radio Moscow had broadcast in every language under the sun for decades before and after the war, not to mention the thousands of pro-Soviet--and often Soviet-funded--newspapers and magazines around the world, and the incessant 'peace' 'congresses,' 'conferences,' 'movements,' and 'appeals' of the 1940s and early 1950s.)." Leon Aron, The New Republic via American Enterprise Institute, 9 September 2008.

Georgi Markov murder investigation will continue.

Posted: 11 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Bulgaria is to keep open its probe of the 'umbrella killing' in London of dissident Georgy Markov in 1978, the head of the country's investigation service, Boiko Naydenov, told AFP Wednesday. Initially, the investigation was to have been closed this week when a 30-year statute of limitations expired. ... Markov, a prominent journalist and playwright, fled communist Bulgaria in 1969 for Britain, where he regularly hit out at Bulgaria's communist regime in reports for the BBC and Radio Free Europe." AFP, 11 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.

New BBC appointment has many target countries.

Posted: 11 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has appointed Razvan Scortea as the Head of its BBC French and BBC Great Lakes language services. ... BBC in French for Africa – BBC Afrique – broadcasts daily programmes to millions of people in 23 countries across four time zones. BBC Great Lakes broadcasts programmes in Kinyarwanda and Kirundi to audiences in Rwanda, Burundi and neighbouring countries." BBC World Service press release, 10 September 2008.

BBC Arabic broadcasters vote to strike (updated).

Posted: 11 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
National Union of Journalists "members at the BBC’s Arabic Service have voted resoundingly in favour of strike action. The ballot was called because management is failing to adequately address staff concerns about resources, workloads and staffing levels. ... An industrial action ballot was called after the management failed to guarantee sufficient staffing levels across the TV, radio and online services. The BBC has invested significantly in its Arabic Service and is planning to extend its TV operations from 12 to 24 hours a day. However, this increase in work has been proposed without an appropriate increase in staffing." NUJ, 4 September 2008.
     BBC: "BBC Arabic staff already have working conditions and rotas which are comparable with staff working on other news outlets in the BBC and our proposals, if they had been accepted, would have further enhanced their position." The Guardian, 3 September 2008.
     The large number of Arabic news channels creates a seller's market, i.e. favoring labor, so it is not surprising that the BBC Arabic staff is willing to take a chance with this strike. Competing channels include the deep-pocketed Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya, as well as Al Manar, Alhurra, and the Arabic services of DW-TV, France 24, Russia Today, EuroNews, and others. All these stations must compete for a finite pool of Arabic-speaking broadcast journalists.
     Update: "Journalists with BBC Arabic Television believe that the demands made of them exceed those made of their colleagues in other sections of the BBC World Service, especially as the planning and news- gathering section is almost dysfunctional, a fact admitted by BBC management, which has set up a committee to investigate the reasons, headed by the deputy head of the Africa and Middle East section of the BBC World Service." Al Hayat (London), 7 September, via BBC Monitoring, via redOrbit, 10 September 2008.

BBC poll gives Obama big lead among those who can't vote for him.

Posted: 11 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"All 22 countries in a BBC World Service poll would prefer Democratic nominee Barack Obama to be elected US president instead of his Republican rival John McCain. Obama is preferred by a four to one margin on average across the 22,000 people polled." BBC World Service press release, 10 September 2008. See also BBC News, 10 September 2008.
     "The BBC has come under fire for wasting thousands of pounds in taxpayers money on a 'meaningless' global survey about who people want to be the next US president. ... Conservative MP Philip Davies, who sits on the culture, media and sport select committee, said: 'I think this is an appalling waste of taxpayers' money, which has no bearing on anything. There are dozens of polls coming out from the US all the time. This is completely meaningless whatever the result. It also comes at a time when the BBC are laying off people.'" Daily Mail, 10 September 2008.
     "Republicans will probably figure out a way to spin the results against him." Don Frederick, Los Angeles Times blog, 11 September 2008.
     "BBC World News Radio will broadcast from Quail Run Golf Course in Sun City [California] on Sunday as part of its U.S. election bus tour." yourwestvalley.com, 9 September 2008.

Watching Indonesian television, 12 September 2001.

Posted: 11 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"There was nothing. Nothing. My host had neither cable nor satellite -- much less CNN International or the BBC -- thus we were reliant on Indonesian news channels. And all we got was silence: an impartial, stony silence -- simply game shows, political news about Indonesia, and local celebrity gossip. That more than 3,000 Americans just lost their lives was somehow starkly irrelevant." Joseph Kirschke, Worldpress.org, 11 September 2008.

Al Jazeera MD on Canada's televised debates.

Posted: 11 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Tony Burman, managing director of Al Jazeera English, formerly CBC editor-in-chief, writes: "Prime Minister Harper's refusal to allow the Green Party leader to participate in the Federal Election Debates is cynical and self-serving, but at least it exposes the sham that Canada's election debate process has become. After 40 years of relying on Canada's television networks to organize this important event, I believe it is time for Canadians -- through the CRTC -- to pull the plug on the networks and entrust this vital mission to an independent, non-partisan 'commission' similar to how it is done in the U.S." Globe and Mail, 10 September 2008.

UK discrimination suit against Al Jazeera carries on.

Posted: 11 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"A former executive at al-Jazeera English seeking more than £1m compensation for alleged discrimination today branded the Qatar-based news channel's management 'inconsistent, inefficient and malicious' at an employment tribunal in London. Jo Burgin, the former head of planning at the channel, which launched in November 2006 as a spin-off of the al-Jazeera Arabic language news service, is seeking compensation from the company for alleged discrimination on the grounds of sex, race and religion following the non-renewal of her contract in April 2007." The Guardian, 9 September 2008. "Ingrid Simler QC, representing al-Jazeera English at the London tribunal hearing, countered claims made by Burgin that the station shunned woman, highlighting the appointment of women to two senior roles at the network." The Guardian, 9 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.

DW-TV via Livestation.

Posted: 11 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Livestation, the company that streams live TV over broadband, has teamed up with the German broadcaster, Deutsche Welle, to carry its TV and radio offerings. Germany's international broadcaster becomes the ninth partner channel to join Livestation and is now a channel choice alongside BBC World, EuroNews (English, French, German and Italian), France 24 (French and English), Bloomberg, Al Jazeera and Russia Today." broadcastbuyer, 10 September 2008. Interview with Matteo Berlucchi, CEO of Livestation, NewTeeVee, 10 September 2008.

Two international radio stations have stayed on the air long enough to celebrate anniversaries.

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Radio Sweden celebrated its 70th anniversary with a English-language live program before a studio audience. The discussion including its coverage of major Swedish news stories over the decades. Listen to the 3 September 2008 broadcast on this web page or download the mp3 file from this page.
     Radio New Zealand International marked its 60th anniversary on its Mailbag program. Download the program dated 31 August 2008 from this web page. The next one or two Mailbag programs will have additional information on the history of New Zealand's shortwave broadcasts. See also David Ricquish, RadioHeritage.net, via DX Listening Digest, 2 September 2008.

Blog report: Paula Zahn declined offer to be BBG spokesperson.

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Perhaps Paula Zahn, formerly of CNN and ABC, could have explained to the White House, the U.S. Congress and the American people why the Voice of America (VOA) Russian-language radio programs were not being heard in the war zone in Georgia, or in Russia itself, when the Russian troops invaded their small neighbor on August 8. Twelve days earlier, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which tried to hire Paula Zahn as their public relations guru, had shut down all VOA radio broadcasts to Russia, and was about to shut down VOA radio to Georgia. ... The BBG failed to hire Paula Zahn because in the end she turned them down." Ted Lipine, Blogger News Network, 8 September 2008.

New DTH service brings international channels to Nigeria.

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The quality, content and pricing of satellite and pay TV services in Nigeria are set to witness a revolution as Daar Communications, promoters of Africa Independent Television and Ray Power Radio Station get set to lauch DAARSAT, a new satellite Direct-To-Home (DTH) Pay TV next month (October 7). ... Channels which will be available on DAARSAT include Eurosports News, MTV Base, Fox Sports, Fox News, Fox Baby TV, Science TV, National Geographic, Fashion TV, African Business Channel, BBC World and Al Jazerra, Also included CNBC Africa, Sound City, AIT Movie Star, Arewa Channel, Yoruba Channel, NTA, AIT and Euro News among others." Business Day (Nigeria), 8 September 2008.

NRJ: international radio success story.

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Outside France NRJ Group subsidiary NRJ International operates radio stations in 14 countries, almost all with local partners. Modern Times Group (MTG) is the primary partner in Scandinavia. In addition, the NRJ name has been licensed in Russia, Bulgaria, Lebanon and Ukraine. Prof-Media is the Russian partner. ... Developing the NRJ brand outside France, where the company has had no incumbency advantage, poses a clear challenge. ... 'We are not just a radio station. We are a consumer brand connected through many platforms.'" Michael Hedges, followthemedia.com, 8 September 2008. See also NRJ Group website.

BBC America will follow a shipping container for a year.

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC America’s flagship news program is sending a bright red shipping container around the world, tracking its progress and reporting from the ports it visits as a way to explore globalized business. ... The 40-foot container leaves Southampton in southern England today, carrying real goods. It’s initially headed to Scotland to be loaded with whisky and then put on a container ship bound for China. It will carry consumer goods from Shanghai to Philadelphia and general cargo from the U.S. to Germany. 'The Box' is likely to travel to countries like Japan, Russia, Singapore and Vietnam carrying cargoes as varied as car parts and sporting goods." Multichannel News, 8 September 2008. See also BBC America press release, 8 September 2008.

BBC World News promotes its ability to make world leaders squirm.

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News has launched a television [promotion] drive - 'Power of Questions' to champion its news teams. ... The first spot, 'No comment', highlights how the persistence of BBC reporters helps them get stories while 'Killer questions', the second spot, features world leaders stumped by questions being posed to them on in-depth new programmes such as HARDtalk and Newsnight." Media (Hong Kong), 9 September 2008. See also BBC World News press release, 8 September 2008. Are UK leaders among the stumped?

Listening to BBC on 9/11. On an airplane. On the ground.

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"We were just two of the 6,500 airline passengers who disembarked at Gander International Airport in Newfoundland on that dreadful day. Thirty eight planes were stacked up on that runway (a very bizarre sight!). And not one of us knew about events unfolding on the American mainland. After 20 hours being left on the plane, we were anxious, hungry and desperate for information. People were starting to complain and tensions were starting to rise. Then they hooked us up to the BBC World Service and we finally heard of the horror unfolding. An eerie quiet swept through the plane like a thick woollen blanket being pulled across every head, as everyone tried to take in the enormity of what had happened." Tara Cain, Coventry Telegraph, 7 September 2008. Presumably reception was via shortwave, as passenger aircraft are equipped with shortwave (HF) equipment. Would shortwave reception of BBC be possible today on a Newfoundland taxiway?

Al Jazeera shows segment of Al Qaeda 9/11 video.

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Today, Al-Jazeera aired a segment of a documentary by Al-Qaeda's media unit Al-Sahab titled 'The Harvest of Seven Years Since 9/11.' The video, which was partially subtitled in English by Al-Sahab, was aired together with a statement by the network that it had 'managed to get' hold of the film and that the film had not yet been posted on any Al-Qaeda website." Middle East Media Research Institute, 8 September 2008.

New Australia Network program takes on a vast subject.

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Before the year ends, the relatively silent P in the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s television service for the Asia-Pacific region should pick up a lot more noise. That is the promise of ABC International director Murray Green... 'By October or November this year, we will launch a weekly magazine show on the Pacific which we are calling Pacific Pulse. It will look at the region’s pop culture, music, arts, fashion and people who are making a difference in Pacific society.' Pacific Pulse will be aired on ABC’s international service, Australian [sic] Network, beamed via satellite to 40 countries across Asia and the Pacific. ... It will be in many ways run along the same line as its successful and widely listened Pacific Beat programme currently heard on the ABC’s international radio service, Radio Australia." Islands Business (Suva), 7 September 2008. The actual name of the channel is Australia Network, i.e. no "n" at the end -- see australianetwork.com.

Telesur: South America through South Americans' eyes, soon to South Africa?

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
In Nikolas Kozloff, Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left: "A chapter entitled "South American Media Wars" starts off with a close look at Telesur, Venezuela’s new hemispheric TV station. The network has an audience of 5 million viewers and is broadcasted in 20 Latin American and Caribbean countries with 24-hour programming. As its proponents explain, Telesur is a way to show South America through South Americans’ eyes. ... 'We always saw ourselves through the lens of Madrid, London, New York. We begin with the idea that first we must get to know ourselves.'" Upside Down World, 8 September 2008.
     "The 'Five Stars and One Song' concert dedicated to five Cubans unjustly imprisoned in the US, will be broadcast live throughout Latin America by Telesur" ACN Cuban News Agency, 8 September 2008.
     During Hugo Chavez's visit to South Africa" "South Africa’s involvement in the Bank of the South, Telesur, and Petrosur were discussed." Venezuelanalysis.com, 7 September 2008.

Georgi Markov case may never be solved (updated again).

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"In one of the most infamous unsolved crimes of the Cold War, Bulgarian dissident Georgi Markov was attacked in London on Sept. 7, 1978, and died four days later. With the 30-year statute of limitations coming up, Bulgaria plans to close its investigation of the case, a move that may stymie the U.K.'s probe and leave unanswered speculation that Bulgaria's spy service ordered the hit. ... The assassination silenced Georgi Markov, who used the London-based BBC World Service and U.S.-funded Radio Free Europe to denounce Bulgaria as one of the world's most repressive communist regimes." Bloomberg, 29 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     New documents ... confirm that agent Piccadilly, the only suspect in the Markov’s murder investigation, was specially trained in 1978, sent on a mission and subsequently invited to holiday in Bulgaria, where he was presented with medals by the country’s then-secret police State Security." Sofia Echo, 5 September 2008.
     Update: "An enterprising Bulgarian journalist, Hristo Hristov, who spent six years piecing together clues and has just published a book in Bulgaria on the case, believes that ... an Italian-born Dane who was believed to be a renowned assassin. The Scotsman, 9 September 2008.

Russia Today correspondent accuses CNN of Georgian video "forgery."

Posted: 09 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Russia Today TV channel journalists, who worked in the city of Tskhinvali, accuse CNN of forgery in the coverage of the conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia, RIA Novosti reports. The statement was made Monday by a correspondent of Russia Today, Nikolai Baranov, during a round table discussion devoted to the recent events in the Caucasus. 'Our crew was making a report about Tskhinvali ruined by the Georgian army. We particularly were filming the University of South Ossetia. We were very surprised and indignant to see this footage on CNN presented as the Georgian town of Gori, which the Russian army supposedly attacked.' ... An official representing the Moscow department of CNN said that the TV company had not taken any efforts to fabricate its reports. 'There might have been a mistake in the preparation of the reports in question,' he said." Pravda.ru, 9 September 2008.

Report: DW Chinese reporter suspended for "friendliness toward China" (updated again).

Posted: 08 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman on Thursday urged the news media to report with objectivity and fairness, after being asked to comment on the suspension of a Chinese journalist by a major German broadcaster. Spokesman Qin Gang was speaking in response to a journalist's question concerning a Zhang Danhong's suspension from her post at international broadcaster Deutsche Welle due to her remarks showing friendliness toward China." Xinhua, 28 August 2008. See also Berliner Zeitung, 22 August 2008. "Zensur ist für die Deutsche Welle (DW) kein unbekanntes Phänomen." ("Censorship is not for Deutsche Welle an unknown phenomenon.") Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, 26 August 2008.
     "Her suspension exemplifies the hypocritical nature of some Western media that chant human rights and freedom of speech every day. For a long time, it is politically correct for the Western media to attack China. So when they report on issues about China, they tend to question, challenge and doubt, while turning a blind eye to the improvements and achievements China has made. Freedom of speech is one of the core values the Western media uphold. Then in Zhang's case, why did DW Radio violate the very value it claimed to cherish?" Joshua Shi, Shanghai Daily, 4 September 2008. See also DW press release, 1 August 2008.
     Update: "Ms. Zhang still retains her position in the editor's office, and she has merely been positioned away from the microphone, until this matter is cleared up." Epoch Times, 6 September 2008. See also Beijing Review, 8 September 2008.

Iranian exile internet radio station is "bloggish."

Posted: 07 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Zamaneh is an Amsterdam-based Persian language radio. ... It launched about two years ago and calls itself a ‘radio for bloggers'. ... Q: There are several news sites, outside of Iran, such as Deutsche Welle (DW) Perisan site, covering Iranian blogs. Is there a difference between RZ's approach toward blogging and theirs? A: We don't just cover bloggers, we are bloggers and our style is bloggish: friendly, informal, different, personalized, and diverse. ... Q: How does RZ deal with filtering? ... A: We have to continually find new holes to hide in. We have changed our domain name 5 times! We send our newsletters every day to many people who want to read RZ and have no direct access. But we cannot say that we can evade filtering. Many pages are blocked. Despite that, more than 60% of our readers are from Iran." Global Voices, 6 September 2008. See also www.radiozamaneh.com.

In the Republican Party platform, the only mention of television is TV Martí.

Posted: 07 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Republican Party platform talks little about media issues, despite the oft-expressed media-policy concerns of its presidential nominee, Sen. John McCain (Ariz.). ... In the 67-page Republican platform, the only mention of television is a reference to the government-run broadcasting service to Cuba, TV Marti." Broadcasting & Cable, 6 September 2008.
     "Throughout the Cold War, our international broadcasting of free and impartial information promoted American values to combat tyranny. It still does, through Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and Radio/TV Marti, and it remains an important instrument in promoting a modernizing alternative to the culture of radical terror. Getting America’s message out to the world is a critical element in the struggle against extremism, and our government must wage a much more effective battle in the war of ideas." gopplatform2008.com -- So the paragraph on public diplomacy deals only with international broadcasting, and makes no mention of VOA, Alhurra, or Radio Sawa.

VOA Music Mix is heard, in Malta, if you have a DAB receiver.

Posted: 07 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Digital Audio Broadcasting [DAB], which has become extremely popular overseas [sic], is to be launched in Malta shortly. ... More than a few stations are also being rebroadcast on the new platform - BBC World Service, Voa Music Mix, Rai Stereo 1/2/3, Retesport, Radio Deejay, World Radio Network, Classic Choice, The Groove and Radio Padre Pio." The Malta Independent, 6 September 2008. Indeed, VOA Music Mix is VOA's only 24-hour English-language service, still with news dutifully provided on the hour. The VOA Music Mix website is here. There, the LISTEN LIVE link will give you a Windows Media Player stream. If you prefer a live Real stream, go to this page (you would probably never find it on your own), then look for Music Mix Live, which has top billing over News Now.

The international channels overlook the 'Stans.

Posted: 07 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"This is my first stop on a visit to the heart of Central Asia's historic Silk Road: Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, known collectively as the 'Stans. ... If Western satellite television is some measure of a country's existence, the region remains something of a void. Global weather reports on CNN, BBC World and Sky News skirt the edges of the 'Stans, covering China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey. It seems there's no weather in Central Asia." Kevin Jacob, Brisbane Times, 7 September 2008. The 'Stans would be the stomping ground of RFE/RL, which transmits in Kazakh, Uzbek, Kyrgyz, Tajik, and Turkmen. But does RFE/RL provide weather reports for the region?

A commercial international broadcasting success story.

Posted: 07 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
BBC's "Top Gear is already screened in more than 100 countries and a spin-off magazine, the country's best-selling motoring title, publishes 23 editions around the world. ... American channel NBC has commissioned a pilot that will be made by BBC Worldwide's new Los Angeles production office; and Australians, who already receive the British version of Top Gear, will soon get a domestic equivalent produced by a home-grown company part-owned by BBC Worldwide." The Observer, 7 September 2008.

Soviet-era solutions for broadcasting to the former Soviet Union.

Posted: 06 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBG plans to end all Voice of America on-air radio broadcasts to Ukraine by October 1, 2008 and keep only its Internet and television services. Ted Lipien, president of media freedom nonprofit FreeMediaOnline.org, said that television and Internet are far less effective than radio in an emergency and could not easily reach areas under conflict or occupation, as was demonstrated during the war in Georgia. ... The BBG claims that radio broadcasting to Russia can be better done from Moscow and Prague by the semi-private Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). Ted Lipien – who was earlier acting associate director of VOA and helped BBG place programs on stations in Russia, Ukraine, Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq – said, however, that RFE/RL journalists and resources in Russia are now dangerously exposed to intimidation and control by the Russian secret police." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 5 September 2008.
     "Before the BBG took over, journalists at the Voice of America would have immediately expanded broadcasts to Russia and Georgia in response to the news emergency and then ask the White House for more money. The BBG took these types of decisions away from the VOA director, who otherwise could have acted quickly and in sync with the Administration and the Congress. In fact, this is what VOA journalists wanted to do this time, but they were told by the VOA management that the BBG considers such requests 'a non-starter.' ... All U.S. radio broadcasts to Russia would be done from now on by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL)... The problem is that RFE/RL has a large news bureau in Moscow, which makes its journalists, who are Russian citizens living with their families in Russia, vulnerable to pressure and intimidation by Mr. Putin’s secret police." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 4 September 2008.
     The Broadcasting Board of Governors "ceased VOA's Russian-language programs. In its stead, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), a semi-private entity operating in the former Soviet Union, has been tasked with continuing radio broadcasts in Russian. While RFE/RL has a much better track record than Radio Sawa or al-Hurra, the organization has proved uniquely vulnerable to the Kremlin's crackdown on independent media." Helle Dale, Austin (MN) Post-Bulletin, 4 September 2008.
     This is an op-ed version of Helle Dale's Heritage Foundation paper on the same subject. RFE/RL is not "uniquely" vulnerable, because any VOA rebroadcasting affiliates in Russia are also subject to closure. And, as Ted Lipien argues, if RFE/RL journalists and bureaus in the former Soviet Union are subject to intimidation and closure, then RFE/RL would become like VOA, reporting mostly extra-territorially.
     The media environment in Russia and the other former Soviet republics has become complex and competitive. Shortwave may no longer be the best way to reach these countries. And a U.S. international broadcasting strategy that consists of two stations that compete with each other, largely overlapping, one mandated to be deficient in its coverage of target country news, the other mandated to be deficient in its coverage of world news, is not adequate to the task.
See previous post about same subject.

More stories about interns working for VOA.

Posted: 06 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Daniel Strauss, a senior at Whittier College, in California, is covering the [Republican National Convention], for the Voice of America, as a Richard M. Nixon Fellow. For his fellowship, Mr. Strauss, who says he’s a political independent, wants to examine media coverage of the convention, and of the election in general, looking at what the mainstream press reports on and what it omits. He says he is getting an interesting perspective working at VOA, with its international audience. 'They don’t have to play into the partisan politics of the United States,' he says." Chronicle of Higher Education, 5 Septemver 2008.
     "Since [Eli] Harrington had been taking Chinese classes at Brandeis for a year and a half at the time, working in China was another option for Harrington, but one that was kept somewhat in the back of his mind. Puzzled, Harrington sought former Voice of America (VOA) journalist and Brandeis professor Maura Jane Farrelly’s (JOUR) advice on where he might work. Farrelly told Harrington about VOA, a self-identified multimedia international broadcasting service funded by the U.S. government. Each week, VOA broadcasts its more than 1,250 hours of news, educational, and cultural programming in more than 45 languages to worldwide audiences surpassing 134 million viewers. Farrelly also told Harrington about one of her colleagues who had just started work at Beijing’s VOA bureau." The Brandeis Hoot, 5 September 2008.

"Why Is Russia Losing the Media War?"

Posted: 06 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Comments from eight experts, including Edward Lozansky, President, American University in Moscow: "The answer to the question of 'why Russia is losing the media war' is very simple: the number of professionals in Russia who simultaneously possess the foreign policy, journalism, and debating skills in perfect English is very limited." Russia Profile.org, 5 September 2008.

Al Jazeera covers the U.S. election (updated).

Posted: 06 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"On Aug. 29 at 6 p.m., as I was about to leave my office, I scanned CNN, MSNBC and Fox only to find out that they were preoccupied with a new election hype. This time, it was John McCain’s game-changing selection of his running mate, Governor Sarah Palin. Al Jazeera English, however, was reporting about the dire conditions of the health care system in America and how uninsured Americans feel towards the two candidates. The story was part of the series 'We the People,' which focuses on how people across America are affected by issues gripping the U.S. elections." Jalal Ghazi, New America Media, 4 September 2008.
     "'I talked to my brother, Khalid, before I left [Iraq]. Everyone there is watching on CNN, Al Jazeera. Both conventions mean a lot to them." LA Weekly, 4 September 2008.
     "Dr. [Ron] Paul continues his packed media schedule today! ... Tonight, he will also be on Glenn Beck (check local listings) and will be interviewed on Al Jazeera English by Riz Khan (check local listings)." Campaign for Liberty, 3 September 2008. Check your local listings and, unless you live in Burlington or Toledo, you will descover that Al Jazeera is not on your local cable. However, see YouTube.
     "Despite the protester with the air horn trying to drown out a bar owner's comments about free speech ... the visit to Golden by Al Jazeera English television network seemed to come off fairly smoothly during the Democratic National Convention last week." Ernie Tucker, Denver People Examiner, 3 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "Middle East broadcaster Al Jazeera has many viewers following Palin's story, 'but we emphasize for our audience her talk about oil drilling. That is the subject our viewers are most interested in about her,' said Arar A. AlSharie, news producer for AJ." Variety, 4 September 2008.
     Update: "Al Jazeera (Arabic) has two goals for its convention coverage: to convey what the conventions are like -- the atmosphere, flavor and logistics -- to people unfamiliar with it and to report on the content. ...its coverage Monday, for instance, was pretty similar to other networks, but Al Jazeera made explicit the connections between Gustav and Katrina. The station brought four Arab-American commentators, two Republicans and two Democrats." Poynter Online, 5 September 2008.

China, the content-blockingest country.

Posted: 06 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Yuan Weijing, wife of blind Chinese human rights lawyer and activist Chen Guangcheng told Radio Free Asia: “My mobile phone has had no signal for the past 30 days. At first I tried turning it off and on again, but none of my calls got through. I tried to reach Guangcheng in prison on 2 September, but that call did not get through either. Now it is the same for the people living in the village. Their phone lines are not working.” Reporters sans frontières, 5 September 2008.
     "Up in my room, the Website that pops up on my laptop looks like every other Net portal at a hotel — only it won't let me access human-rights and labor Websites that I know are working fine. The TV gets CNN International — only with strange edits and obviously censored blackouts. My cellphone picks up a strong signal for the China Mobile network. A few months earlier, in Davos, Switzerland, the CEO of China Mobile bragged to a crowd of communications executives that 'we not only know who you are, we also know where you are.'" Naomi Klein, thepeoplesvoice.org, 5 September 2008.

Iran court overturns death sentence against stringer for VOA and Radio Farda.

Posted: 05 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "today welcomed with great relief the ruling by the Tehran Supreme Court overturning a death sentence against Kurdish journalist Adnan Hassanpour because of a procedural error. ... Hassanpour, 26, was arrested outside his home on 25 January 2007 and was imprisoned in Mahabad jail (Kurdistan). He worked for the weekly Asou covering Kurdish issues, a highly sensitive subject in Iran, until it was banned by the Culture and Islamic Orientation Ministry in August 2005. He also contributed to foreign media such as Voice of America and Radio Farda, broadcasting to Iran in Persian." RSF, 4 September 2008. "'We are relieved that Adnan Hassanpour is no longer under the threat of execution,' said CPJ Executive Director Joel Simon. 'But we are shocked that he continues to face legal charges as a result of his critical journalism.'" Committee to Protect Journalists, 5 September 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Where a shortwave radio may be evidence against you.

Posted: 05 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Kim Dong-sun (63) was arrested for spying after South Korean investigators "found in Kim’s house a membership card of the North Korean Workers’ Party, a shortwave radio, a family picture of the North’s no. 2 leader Kim Yong-nam" etc. Chosun Ilbo, 5 September 2008. The pictured radio is a low-end Sony with shortwave bands, probably selling for less than $50. In any case, any medium wave (AM) radio in South Korea could receive broadcasts from North Korea. Any self-respecting spy would have a general coverage receiver, capable of tuning between the shortwave broadcast bands and of receiving single sideband and CW (Morse code) transmissions.

RFI editor gets scoop, gets fired (updated).

Posted: 05 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"On July 8, 2008, Richard Labeviere, an editor-in-chief at Radio France Internationale (RFI) ... carried out an exclusive interview with Syrian President Hafez [sic, should be Bashar] al-Assad in Damascus. The interview was made for RFI and TV5-Monde – two of the media outlets of the French holding company Audiovisuel extérieur de la France (AEF). ... In any other media institution, such an exclusive interview would be welcomed by management. However at RFI, what happened was the contrary: Richard Labeviere was promptly fired and accused of 'serious misconduct.' ... Richard Labeviere is accused of having failed to inform his superiors on time – but the truth is that he actually informed them, in writing, five days before the interview." iPetitions, 26 August 2008. See also l’Humanité, 26 August 2008.
     Update: "A l’heure du rapprochement entre France 24, TV5-Monde et RFI, dans le cadre de la holding Audiovisuel Extérieur de la France (AEF) dirigée par Alain de Pouzilhac et Christine Ockrent, il est surprenant que la fabrication de l’information proposée par le modèle France 24 ne provoque pas plus de débats." Marc Endeweld, Le Monde diplomatique, 4 September 2008.

"A whole new world of bias," i.e. the present crop of international news channels.

Posted: 05 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Much of the boom in television news stations is commercially funded, especially in south and east Asia. ... But more remarkable has been the proliferation of state-funded channels – many of them with a global reach – in an era generally inimical to large-scale investment in public companies. Many are 'counter-hegemonic', set up with the explicit intention of challenging the 'BBC/CNN approach' to world news. For some of these the challenge is relatively muted: though the stress may at times be significantly different, there isn’t really a different paradigm. The aspiration is still balance and objectivity. France-24 and Al-Jazeera English (AJE, newsroom and anchor Ghida Fakhry pictured left) would fall into this group. On other channels, the aim is more to confront. Some of these newcomers see claims to editorial impartiality as a cover for western hegemonic power and seek to redress the balance. Telesur would be in this category, as would Russia Today, China’s CCTV-9 and Press TV in Iran. Their agenda may be to a lesser or greater degree a conscious one, but the outcome on screen is self-evident: it is hard to find criticism of host governments but easy to find opposition to George W. Bush." James Painter, Financial Times, 4 September 2008. "This article is part of a series on TV around the world. For earlier pieces, visit www.ft.com/arts/tv."

Australia adds Hindi website; other Indian languages may follow.

Posted: 05 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Australian High Commission, New Delhi has launched a Hindi version of its website www.india.highcommission.gov.au featuring wide ranging information including visas and migration, development cooperation and media. ... 'The Hindi section of the website provides information on visas and immigration, Australian development cooperation in India, Australian business, the broader Australia-India relationship and media information such as major speeches and press releases by the High Commission and Australian Ministers. We also hope to translate the website into other Indian languages in the near future and hope this initiative will help Indian users gain easier accessibility to relevant information'." Australian High Commision India, 1 September 2008.

BBC covers the U.S. election.

Posted: 05 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"'There's unprecedented global interest in this election,' said Rome Hartman, former exec producer of CBS "Evening News" and now head of BBC World News America, which operates closely with BBC World News UK. The Blighty broadcasting giant will release a survey next week of 22 countries showing that 'people everywhere are really paying attention to this,' Hartman said." Variety, 4 September 2008.
     BBC World Service coverage of the Republican National Convention, including audio. BBCWS, 4 September 2008.
     "In the run up to the 2008 US presidential election the BBC will broadcast a wealth of election news and programming across its international TV, radio and online news services. At the centre of the election coverage will be the BBC US08 Election bus. On the bus will be a multimedia news team travelling across the US looking to find out what Americans want from their next president, and also what the rest of the world wants from America." BBC World News press release, 1 September 2008.
     "When I was working at BBC World Service in London, a British colleague once said the only thing you needed to know about covering American politics was that the coasts were blue (Democrat) and the interior was red (Republican). True, sort of, on an electoral map, but a ridiculous way to sum up the complexities of the country." Michael Petrou, Macleans blog, 4 September 2008.

Taping of Alhurra's "Eye on Democracy" canceled in Egypt (updated).

Posted: 05 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Egyptian authorities ordered the cancellation of the videotaping of two Programs for the American Satellite channel 'Al-Hura' just few hours before their shooting without justification, and inspite of their 4 weeks agreement with the company. Some of the young Egyptian activists, from the opposition parties as well as from the National Democratic Party, had received a phone call yesterday at noon informing them of the cancellation of the program (Eye on Democracy), which was destined for shooting the day before in the afternoon, inspite of the agreement for made for this purpose, and also inspite of the time and place confirmation they had received the day before." Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, 28 August 2008. Update: Reporters sans frontières "condemns growing Egyptian government control over the media, especially the broadcast media." RSF, 4 September 2008.

U.S. international broadcasting covers the U.S. election.

Posted: 04 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Nafees Takar has the unique task of explaining the Republican National Convention to audiences in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Like hundreds of other foreign journalists in St. Paul, he is struggling to explain the controversy over vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. For starters, explaining a 'vetting' process to people living in countries with young democracies is a challenge, said Takar, a Pakistani reporter for the Voice of America, a U.S. government news service that broadcasts around the globe. 'In countries like Pakistan, any corrupt person can become a politician and nobody bothers to write anything,' Takar said." Minneapolis Star Tribune, 3 September 2008.
     "A quick look around the convention center shows there is media from all over the world right here in St. Paul for the RNC. There are big networks from Al Jazeera, Telemundo, and the BBC. But there are also a few names you might not recognize like the TV crew from Alhurra TV which broadcasts to 26 million viewers each week in the Middle East, North Africa and Europe. Rana Abtar covers the U.S. Congress for Alhurra and she says her Arabic-speaking audience has a huge interest in this election." KARE-TV (Minneapolis), 3 September 2008. This item does not mention that Alhurra is funded by the U.S. government.

Ghanaian lauds BBC.

Posted: 04 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"For me personally, I have been hooked on to the BBC since I was born and this addiction is not for nothing. Simply put, whether on the global or local scene, I have not found a suitable alternative for my very wide appetite for information. The other competitors are too blatantly lopsided to their countries of origin to be as appealing; the VOA is all about America, Deutsche Welle is all about Germany as much as CFI is all about France. No one can blame them for that as it is their mandate to project their countries and cultures through that technology. As much as we are the targets and focus of their programming we cannot be a part of the management and development of their operational strategies. ... My addiction to the BBC is predicated on the fact that its Director-General could look his Prime Minister in the face and tell her to go hell because the BBC was not the State agency for promoting patriotism. This was in 1982 during the Falklands War when Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister, had accused the BBC of giving too much away to the Argentine war machine by its reporting from the war front." Oblitey Commey, Ghana.gov.gh, 3 September 2008.

Two cheers for international channels on local television.

Posted: 04 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Back in June, Vegas PBS challenged our global awareness by putting PBS Worldview on Cox Cable Channel 114. Unhindered by ideological constraints, with news, sports and entertainment in English or English subtitles, it offers everything from everywhere: 'Russia Today,' 'My India,' 'This is Beijing,' 'Dateline Punjab,' 'Asian Variety Show,' 'France 24 News' and 'Muslim Girl Magazine,' among numerous programs. ... But as viewers of PBS' big-tent cultural choices are steadily siphoned off by niche cable (and this country continues its buzz-off attitude toward other nations, at least until we elect a new president), is Worldview a welcome view here? Well, try it. If Russian news doesn't rock you, those Bollywood flicks are rather entertaining." Steve Bornfeld, Las Vegas Review-Journal, 4 September 2008. Actually, Worldview is not a PBS operation, but is a national channel distributed by MHz Networks Vegas PBS is the public television channel in Las Vegas.
     "I wouldn't want to deprive myself of TV full-time... . There are some gems, although often they lie buried amid the dross. ... But I'd find it hard to do with just the free-to-air channels now; cable or satellite TV offers more. ... BBC World News and DWTV (Deutsche Welle) uncover stories you just don't see on local TV; National Geographic, Discovery and History channels traverse time and space." David Killick, The Press (Christchurch), 3 September 2008.

Microsoft and 12 other companies will invest in the new Japan International Broadcasting Inc.

Posted: 04 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Microsoft Corp, NTT Communications Corp and Itochu Corp, together with 10 other companies will take stakes in Japan's first 24-hour English-language broadcasting service, which will be established by Japan Broadcasting Corp, or NHK, in February, the Nikkei reported on Thursday, without citing sources. Japan International Broadcasting Inc, the unit of NHK which currently has capital of 200 million yen ($1.8 million), will boost its capital by 190 million yen in October, the business daily said. The NHK unit will issue new shares in private placements to the 13 firms, which also include Nippon Television Network Corp, Tokyo Broadcasting System Inc, two other commercial TV networks and Mizuho Corporate Bank. Once the new shares are issued, NHK's interest in the unit will drop to around 60 percent, the report said. The 13 firms will own the remainder, with each putting up 10-20 million yen and taking stakes of no more than about 5 percent each." Thomson Financial, 3 September 2008. Isn't NHK World TV already a 24-hour English broadcasting service? See this schedule. Is the 10-20 million yen that the partners will put up the same as the mentioned 190 million yen capital boost? The 200 million plus 190 million yen is about US$3.6 million, still a modest investment for an international television operation. If I were still the host of a weekly media program on VOA, I would call Japan and ask some questions. See previous post about same subject.

Russian (and Ukrainian) leaders work the international channels.

Posted: 04 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Hours after announcing Russia's recognition of the two rebel Georgian republics, Medvedev gave interviews to CNN, BBC, the French network TF-1 and Al-Jazeera. Putin followed suit with an Aug. 28 interview with CNN and Germany's ARD network the following day. Euronews broadcast an interview with Medvedev on Monday, and Medvedev said in an interview broadcast Tuesday by Italian RAI television that Moscow would not negotiate with Saakashvili, whom he called a 'political corpse.'" Moscow Times, 4 September 2008. Transcript of Medvedev interview on EuroNews. ISRIA, 4 September 2008.
     Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko gives exclusive interview to CNN International. UNIAN news agancy, 3 September 2008.

CNN now has a VP of international digital services.

Posted: 04 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Nick Wrenn, CNN’s managing editor for Europe, Middle East & Africa, has been appointed to the new position of vice president, CNN International Digital Services. Based in Atlanta, Wrenn will report to Tony Maddox, executive vice president and managing director of CNN International. Together with the international edition of CNN.com and sites in Arabic, Spanish, Korean and Japanese, CNN International syndicates video, live streaming and video-on-demand to a growing number of sites including Vingo, YouTube, Daily Motion and Jalipo while also operating CNN Mobile in more than 100 countries." CNN press release, 4 September 2008.
     "Most major South African newspapers offer a mobile alerts or news headlines service, but most of these are so peripheral, non-readers never become aware of them. In contrast, CNN International's mobile news alerts service is heavily punted on its TV broadcasts, and is emerging as a virtual default news service for those who cannot remain glued to their TV screens. Ironically, the service is powered by a South African company." Arthur Goldstuck, Marketingweb (Johannesburg), 3 September 2008.

China's spot public diplomacy.

Posted: 03 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Seen occasionally on CNN since the Beijing Olympics, commercials showing upbeat scenes and people in China. At the end, the caption: "China. All you can imagine." The ad makes no specific mention of tourism, so seems more to promote the general image if China.

Boycott? What boycott?

Posted: 03 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"President Shimon Peres and Defense Minister Ehud Barak broke Israel's boycott of Al-Jazeera when they each granted interviews to the Qatar-based network this week. Foreign Ministry officials said there was an understanding in the Prime Minister's Office, Foreign Ministry and Defense Ministry not to speak to Al-Jazeera due to its coverage that the officials called 'anti-Israel.' ... Officials in Peres's office responded that they were unaware of a decision to boycott Al-Jazeera." Jerusalem Post, 2 September 2008.

Iran orders Al-Arabiya bureau chief to leave.

Posted: 03 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Tehran bureau chief for the Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel has been banned Tuesday by Iranian authorities from working in the Islamic Republic and told to leave the country as soon as possible, the network told The Associated Press. ... Iranian officials have long complained that Al-Arabiya's coverage of Iran is biased. The network has rejected the criticism, saying that it had always given Iranian officials the chance to take part in its programs." AP, 2 September 2008. Al-Arabiya is owned by the MBC group.

Battle of the Middle Eastern movie channels.

Posted: 03 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"More than a month after the official launch of the Persian MBC television network, which broadcasts American movies with Persian subtitles on a 24-hour basis and free of charge, officials at the Iranian Voice and Vision [Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting] are taking steps to launch an independent 24/7 network in response to MBC's Persian channel. The new Iranian network would broadcast films and serials in Arabic for audiences in the Middle East. ... MBC Persian ... belongs to a Saudi prince and has been active since the early 1990s. ... MBC Persian programmes are broadcast from Dubai and the managers of this network have spoken very little about its objectives and programmes since the channel was launched." E'temad (Iran), 28 August 2008, via BBC Monitoring, via redOrbit, 2 September 2008. See also mbc-persia.com.

With no more Bulgarian broadcasts, BBC evicted from Sofia's FM dial.

Posted: 03 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"As of September 2 2008, BBC World Service has stopped broadcasting in Bulgaria. The radio station, accessible at 91.0 FM in Sofia, started operations in the country in 1940. ... According to an August 24 article on kafene.net, the decision for early termination of the radio’s broadcasting contract was taken by the Bulgarian Council of Electronic Media (CEM) on June 6 2008, following a three-year effort of Bulgarian administration through CEM to deprive the BBC of its Sofia frequency. ... This is the only time that the World Service has, be it voluntarily, be it under force from local governance, closed down operations in a European capital city. Claims on the BBC’s Sofia radio frequency started immediately after the Bulgarian editorial office of the World Service TV [sic] shut doors in October 2005." Sofia Echo, 2 September 2008. It was BBC Bulgarian-language radio, not television, that ended in 2005. There was never a BBC Bulgarian television service. The article mentions that BBC World Service broadcasts in English are still available in Bulgaria via the internet and Hotbird 2. Not mentioned is that BBCWS shortwave broadcasts to Europe are no longer available. If DRM digital shortwave works, this could bring "near FM" reception of BBCWS English to places in Europe where BBC is not available -- or will no longer be available -- on a local FM channel. By the way, a key performance measure for BBCWS is the number of capital cities in which it has an FM outlet.

Ideas for public diplomacy: separate agencies for take-offs and crash landings?

Posted: 03 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Nancy Snow, associate professor of public diplomacy at Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in New York, told America.gov that her employment with USIA in the 1990s made her a 'fan of having an independent agency of the U.S. government responsible for telling America's stories to the world.' Snow, whose books include Propaganda, Inc.: Selling America's Culture to the World, said USIA and the State Department 'have different objectives.' USIA, she said, was a 'bit of a water carrier' by delivering, rather than creating messages; the State Department makes policy. 'The intermixing of the two doesn't seem to be working.'" America.gov, 28 August 2008.
     "Nicholas Cull ... director of the public diplomacy program at the University of Southern California ... said a return to re-creating the U.S. Information Agency (USIA), an independent agency that coordinated public diplomacy efforts in the second half of the 20th century, would not necessarily be the best idea for improving American public diplomacy. USIA was merged into the State Department in 1999. The United States 'should look at what works in other democracies,' such as in the United Kingdom and Germany. Such countries, he said, 'do very well by keeping the advocacy part of public diplomacy -- the policy promotion element -- in their foreign ministry, but making the cultural work independent in its own body' and 'keeping their international broadcasters behind a firewall [separated] too.'" America.gov, 26 August 2008.
     "We have botched [public diplomacy] in the Middle East over the past six years. We have been worried about our image, but the problem is the failure of most Muslim societies to audibly condemn terrorism—a practice that is abhorrent to any reasonable reading of Islam. We should have been quietly networking traditional Muslim intellectuals and clerics to help them articulate that terrorism is morally wrong. We have done some of this, mainly at the Defense Department, but the State Department has wasted years perseverating on the wrong question. In an absentminded fit of post-Cold War economizing, Congress destroyed the institution arguably best suited for the purpose - the United States Information Agency - and tried unsuccessfully to stuff its remains into the Department of State. One solution would be to re-establish USIA, but a new public-private partnership of some kind is probably the better way to go. Adam Garfinkle, Foreign Policy Research Institute, 11 September 2008 issue.
     "Our public diplomacy has lacked strategic direction since the end of the Cold War. The task now is to reinvent this role in an effective manner within the government." From Edward Djerejian's new book, Danger and Opportunity: An American Ambassador's Journey Through the Middle East. Threshold Editions press release, 2 September 2008.

Musings about U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Phil Stone and I were grousing about - among other media things - the proposed and long debated closure of VOA's English language service. The idea stinks. Can you imagine Radio France International NOT broadcasting in French? Oh, well ... When presumptive US Democratic presidential candidate Senator Barak Obama named his vice president running mate, Joseph Biden, some might not be unfamiliar with the center-right senator from the small state of Delaware. But US international broadcasters know him well. Senator Biden led legislation – the International Broadcasting Act of 1994 – creating the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), intended to be a non-partisan agency directing all United States government international broadcasting." Michael Hedges, followthemedia.com, 25 August 2008.

What's with this video camera?

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
At the Republican National Convention, David Klock of Macalester College "is interning for al-Hurra, the United States' radio [sic] program in the Middle East, during the convention will be reporting direct from the floor for the radio [sic] station." Pottstown (PA) Mercury, 1 September 2008. Feras Amir of Augsburg College will "spend next week working with Al Hurra, an Arabic-language network that broadcasts in the Middle East." Minneapolis Star Tribune, 31 August 2008.

Higher education at the former VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting site.

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Classes are set to begin in January 2009 at Miami University's Voice of America Learning Center in West Chester Township (Ohio). The 23,000-square-foot School of Education, Health, and Society is located on Cox Road off of Interstate 75 and adjoining to Voice of America Park. Graduate and undergraduate degree programs and courses will be offered in more than 80 classes scheduled during days, evenings and weekends. The facility will also provide space for community meetings, forums and other events." Middletown (OH) Journal, 31 August 2008. See also VOALC web page.

The bloggers who type for America.

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"From nondescript cubicles in a Washington office block, native speakers of Arabic, Farsi and Urdu are aiding the US battle against extremism in cyberspace. The team’s chatter and messages with blog writers across the Middle East and Asia are a far cry from the stiff and formal statements given by US government spokesmen, but they share the same purpose – to explain and clarify deeply unpopular US policies. ... 'Our analysts openly identify themselves as coming from the state department,' said Brent Blaschke, a career foreign officer who is director of the Digital Outreach Team. ... The team engages on websites with high traffic considered closer to the mainstream, such as BBC Arabic, al Jazeera and Elaph.com, not extremist or al Qa’eda supporter sites." The National (Abu Dhabi), 28 August 2008.

Cultural diplomacy the "most acceptable" public diplomacy?

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
At a symposium on cultural diplomacy at the Caribbean Festival of Arts in Guyana: "It was highlighted that cultural diplomacy was the most acceptable form of public diplomacy and should be seen as a channel utilised by countries for developing long term foreign policy towards achieving mutually beneficial goals. 'Cultural diplomacy works best when it’s very strategic. There has to be government taking part in the process and doing so strategically.'" South Florida Caribbean News, 30 August 2008.
     I disagree. Genuine expressions of culture are not imposed by governments. Cultural exchange is a good thing, as are the import and export of cultural products. But "cultural diplomacy" is probably an oxymoron, and doing it "strategically" is a frightening notion.
     The United States was probably attempting strategic cultural diplomacy when it sent its jazz "ambassadors" abroad in the 1950s. But, overseas, these musicians said what they wanted to say, regardless of whether it meshed with U.S. policies. It turned out that this reflected better on the United States than any orchestrated cultural campaign

Invading a neighboring country? Better have a great PR firm.

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Russia easily won its brief war with Georgia, but despite a media blitz to project its side of the story, it concedes it still has a way to go to win the propaganda battle. ... Observers say the Kremlin, which is being advised by New York-based public relations giant Omnicom Group, launched the unprecedented media access in an attempt to stem the tide of negative coverage of the conflict. ... Putin told CNN that the United States had been much better at managing media coverage of the conflict than Russia. 'We have got a lot to learn,' he said. On the evidence of the past few days however Russia has still failed to win the hearts and minds of even its close allies in the old Soviet Union." Reuters, 29 August 2008.

Japan begins a new chapter in international broadcasting.

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
Japan International Broadcasting "was established in April 2008 with a capital investment of ¥50 million from NHK. Today the company will begin full-scale operations (including preparation for programme production and construction of a distribution network using broadband and other media) under new President and CEO Hatsuhisa Takashima, ready for the launch of its broadcasting service in February 2009. NHK invested a further ¥150 million in Japan International Broadcasting Inc. at the end of August to strengthen the company’s financial basis, bringing the total capital to ¥200 million [US $1.8 million]. By March next year JIB.tv says it will be offering its international programming to more than 110m households across the US, Europe and the Mid-East as well as the Asia-Pacific region. ... 'As well as delivering original information on Japan, we aim to establish international recognition for NHK as a source of Asian news by stationing English speaking NHK World TV reporters at NHK bureaus around Asia and taking other steps to strengthen our Asian news-gathering network.'" Rapid TV News, 31 August 2008. NHK press release indicates that there will also be private participation. NHK press release, 27 August 2008. See also AFP, 27 August 2008. So does this replace NHK World? If so, why does the CEO refer to NHK World TV reporters in the future tense? And what can they do with $1.8 million in funding -- unless more private investment is expected? Japanese international broadcasting began as Radio Japan in the 1950s. In the 1990s, the NHK World brand was adopted, to encompass radio, television, and internet international broadcasting. And what will happen to NHK Radio Japan shortwave broadcasts, the elimination of which has been discussed?

Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation relaunches its English radio, with less BBC rebroadcasting.

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"SLBC English Service will be re-launched with a new vision from tomorrow. The oldest English radio channel will offer more local material for its fast growing listenership with more credibility, program content established character, accuracy, and credible dependency for news include wide spectrum in entertainment. Effective September 1, the SLBC English Services would attain new image in Radio listening, yet maintain its rich tradition built over the years. The current nine-hour daily airtime allocated to the BBC will now be reduced to three and a half hours, living listeners an opportunity to enjoy more local programs and music. ... The SLBC also beams its English programs to All Asia, on short wave, in the 19 meter band, and also 31, and 49 meters. Listener audience in those countries could be matched to most other regional broadcasters and more so standards are maintained at competitive levels." Sunday Observer (Colombo), 1 September 2008. "'It will once again resume its pristine glory'" Asian Tribune, 1 September 2008.

Communications breakdown in Kashmir, and soon VOA Hindi will no longer be part of the solution (updated).

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Communications are becoming increasingly limited for the people of the disputed region of Indian Kashmir. ... More newspapers there shut down Monday, as staff could not reach their offices and publications are unable to circulate in the Kashmir Valley. Unlicensed local cable television channels have been ordered to stop news broadcasts. They are accused of inflaming the public. Text messaging on mobile phones has not worked since the beginning of the month. ... 'People will rely more on Pakistan radio and BBC and Voice of America,' [Professor Shahid] Rasool said. 'In fact, myself, yesterday heard Voice of America's Urdu service to get what's happening in Kashmir.' The U.S. Broadcasting Board of Governors has announced that VOA's Hindi language radio one-hour daily broadcast will cease at the end of next month." VOA News, 25 August 2008.
     Update: "Average Kashmiri these days, as was the case in early 1990s-heyday of insurgency-tunes to the language services mainly Urdu of the BBC, Voice of America and [Deutsche] Welle for what they believe is impartial and candid coverage of the happenings in the region. 'Both PTV and Radio Pakistan have only disappointed us. They give only modest coverage to Kashmir situation which could be either because of the political situation prevailing on the home turf or as a matter of policy,' said Abdur Rashid Lone, a radiologist at a Srinagar hospital. Geo is not any good when it comes to reporting on Kashmir happenings, he added. National and international news and entertainment TV channels are, however, available through DTH." Yusuf Jameel, The Asian Age, 1 September 2008.
     "It could well be curtains down for the Voice of America Hindi Service (Radio), after having been on air since 1955. ... Incidentally, the Urdu Service of VOA for Pakistan, Dari and Pashto Services for Afghanistan, have been extended by several hours a day while the Hindi Radio Broadcast to India is only an hour a day and that too is likely to be eliminated." India Post, 31 August 2008.

CNA relays AFP citing RFA.

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
"Two policemen were killed and five others injured in China's restive Xinjiang region, authorities said Friday, bringing the reported death toll from a wave of unrest there this month to 33. ... Xinhua gave few other details but US-funded Radio Free Asia reported the police were ambushed while searching the cornfield following a tip that a woman suspected of helping assailants in an earlier attack was hiding there. 'We didn't expect to come under attack in that cornfield,' Radio Free Asia quoted a local policeman named Omerjan as saying." AFP via Channel NewsAsia, 29 August 2008.

China: license for shortwave listening?

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
In China, the Chinese Radio Sport Association issues amateur radio licenses, but the minimum age is 18. "Any child under 18 interested in the hobby can apply for a short wave listener (SWL) license and also participate under the direction of a control operator." American Radio Relay League, 29 August 2008. This probably does not apply to typical listeners to shortwave broadcasts, but rather to those who want to listen to amateur radio communications for the purpose of eventually becoming a licensed radio amateur.

Less BBC, CNN, France 24: more deviance.

Posted: 01 Sep 2008   Print   Send a link
In Cameroon: "The proliferation of serials on international and national TV channels has been blamed by many as the prime factor contributing to deviant behaviour in youths nowadays. Unlike older parents who give more attention to informative and educative programmes on foreign and national TV channels like, BBC, CNN, France 24, CRTV just to name a few, it has been observed that youths spend over 90 percent of their time watching entertaining films." The Post (Buea), 29 August 2008.

Africa: online via mobile phone.

Posted: 31 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The lack of infrastructure in Africa is keeping the information superhighway from much of the continent. But by embracing new, mobile technologies, many Africans are using their mobile phones as a personal PC. ... A lot of experts are predicting that African bloggers will leapfrog over the PC platform right to the mobile platform, using tools like the micro-blogging platform Twitter." ITNewsAfrica.com, 1 September 2008.

International broadcasting via mobile? Watch the speed limit.

Posted: 31 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Following a petition signed by thousands of French users, complaining that iPhone 3G has a limited speed, Orange officials admitted to have limited the speed for the stability of the network, BetaNews informs. ... According to France Info, the online internet portal of Radio France, Orange officials limited the speed of iPhone 3G to 200-300 Kbps even though the 3G+ technology can offer users a four times speed ability." HotNews.ro, 29 August 2008.

BBC's new Pashto service for the border region.

Posted: 31 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service launches today a special news and current affairs programme for audiences in the Southern and Eastern regions of Afghanistan. Stasu Narray, from the BBC Pashto service, will bring 30 minutes of news and in-depth analysis to Pashto-speakers, including those on the Pakistan border, every day at 2100 in Afghanistan (2130 in Pakistan)." BBC World Service press release, 28 August 2008. Appears to compete with VOA Deewa Radio, Pashto for the Pakistan frontier region, established on September 2006. See previous post.

The real question is whether BBC has gone for the bait (updated).

Posted: 31 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"A Whitehall counter-terrorism unit is targeting the BBC and other media organisations as part of a new global propaganda push designed to 'taint the al-Qaida brand', according to a secret Home Office paper seen by the Guardian. ... The report, headed, Challenging violent extremist ideology through communications, says: 'We are pushing this material to UK media channels, eg a BBC radio programme exposing tensions between AQ leadership and supporters. And a restricted working group will communicate niche messages through media and non-media.' The disclosure that a Whitehall counter-terrorism propaganda operation is promoting material to the BBC and other media will raise fresh concerns about official news management in a highly sensitive area. ... The document also notes that al-Qaida has to 'feed its new franchises with propaganda to keep the "brand" alive at all costs'." The Guardian, 26 August 2008. This is not startling news, unless the counter-terrorism unit is engaging in disinformation. Any government agency can and should propose story ideas and interviews to the news media. The media, in turn, decide what is newsworthy, and present the content according to their own standards. It seems that differences between AQ leadership and their supporters were inevitable, and have already been picked up by the news media without the need for any intrigue.
     Update: "The BBC admitted yesterday that its security correspondent Frank Gardner and a colleague met members of Whitehall's research, information and communications unit (Ricu). The programme, al-Qa'ida's Enemy Within, was broadcast on Radio 4 on 7 August. ... Nicola Meyrick, executive editor of current affairs on BBC Radio, dismissed any suggestion of collusion between the programme's makers and the Whitehall propaganda unit." The Independent, 29 August 2008.

RFE and RL subject of a new(?) documentary.

Posted: 31 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"'To Russia, With Love' tells the story of the Cold War from a most unusual perspective: Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty. A radio station for the countries behind the Iron Curtain. Conceived as a propaganda instrument and financed by the CIA, RFE over the years changed its face and provided the people under Soviet rule with information and news not available to them in any other form. Like any broadcaster in a democratic country." German documentary producer Tangram website. See also trailer at YouTube. And don't miss the "related videos" at YouTube. As for the trailer itself, it shows a copyright of 2005. How long has this film been in production?

VOA musical associations in the news.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Like many other young Cuban musicians, [Arturo Sandoval] discreetly listened to Willis Conover's 'Jazz Hour' broadcasts on the Voice of America radio station, a dangerous thing to do at a time when jazz music was out of favor with the island's Communist government." jazz.com encyclopedia entry. See previous post about same subject.
     "Uptown Records is proud to announce the release of two new additions to its stellar Flashback Series, featuring two of the jazz world's most immortal figures - Charlie Parker, Washington, D.C., May 23, 1948 and Dizzy Gillespie Big Band, Showtime at the Spotlite. ... Charlie Parker, Washington, D.C. is from a live concert produced by the eminent producer and radio figure Willis Conover, whose Voice of America broadcasts promoted good will and captivated millions of jazz fans all over the world for more than 40 years." eJazzNews.com, 28 August 2008. Conover did not begin working for VOA until 1955, but he was a commercial radio jazz presenter dating back to the early 1940s.
     "A group of 178 community and business leaders from West Chester and Liberty townships [Ohio] gathered at The Savannah at Chappell Crossing Aug. 21 to honor West Chester Chamber Alliance president/CEO Joe Hinson and Vice President Kathy Rambo, who both celebrate their 10th year with the chamber this year. ... [It included] a song about the duo sung by Miami University Voice of America Learning Center director Rod Nimtz." Hamilton Journal-News, 28 August 2008. Nimtz, director of the Miami University facility at the former VOA Bethany, Ohio, transmitting site, is apparently quite the musician.
     "Between 1964 and 1968 the Voice of America recorded two of the era's greatest korafolas. The VOA's African Program Center in Monrovia, Liberia had just recently opened its doors in 1964 when Leo Sarkisian met Papa Susso from the Gambia." VOA African Music Treasures blog, 19 August 2008.
     Another VOA music blog, in development, is Brian Silver's voaworldmusic.blogspot.com. Type the URL and you may see "This blog is open to invited readers only." But, eventually, it should be available to the rest of us. A VOA world music radio program would also be nice, but radio is so twentieth century.

Development in Zimbabwe court case related to VOA.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Gweru magistrate, Rosa Takuva, on Monday relaxed bail conditions for Peter Muchengeti ... who was arrested last month [and] is facing charges [arising] from comments Muchengeti allegedly made to the Voice of America Radio Network (Studio 7 Broadcasting) through its reporter Patience Rusere that six bodies had been discovered at Matshekandumba Village at the 30-kilometre peg along the Gweru-Kwekwe Road." Radio Voice of the People, 29 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     At the State University of New York, Oswego, on 7 October: Mary Bivens of the history department will speak on “Robert Mugabe: Global Opinion from the BBC World Service.” SUNY Oswego, 29 August 2007.

VOA election coverage via new website and (if one were to know) via radio.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
VOA's new election coverage website is www.usavotes2008.com. Also additional times and frequencies for VOA radio coverage of the Democratic and Republic conventions. However, the added frequencies are apparently not publicized anywhere, so presumably listeners must happen upon them while tuning their shortwave radios. As the only IBB employee specifically prohibited from receiving IBB Engineering frequency change memos, I can't help in this regard. This prohibition stems from my past tendency of passing schedule information on to the audience. Doing that, of course, increased the risk of VOA transmissions being intercepted by listeners. In the post 9-11 world, we can never be too careful. -- See also discussion in DX Listening Digest, 28 August 2008.

Obama's heritage attracts VOA audience in Kenya.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Voice of America says its broadcasting services to Kenya were busy during the Democratic national convention keeping up with the interest from African countries. Barack Obama's father was Kenyan. The Voice of America says affiliates in Kenya and Tanzania wre 'keenly interested' in the both parties and conventions. But VOA concedes that there is 'added interest in this election from VOA's audience in Africa because Barack Obama has a connection to Kenya through his father.'" Broadcasting & Cable, 29 August 2008.

Joe Biden and international broadcasting.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ted Kaufman is a charter member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees Voice of America and other U.S. international broadcasting agencies. He is a close friend of Joseph Biden, and was his chief of staff in the Senate for 19 years. Kaufman told VOA that Biden brings decades of foreign policy expertise to the table, but that is not all. 'The biggest thing he brings to the ticket is he is qualified to be president of the United States,' Kaufman noted." VOA News, 27 August 2008.
     "Governor Ted Kaufman, chief of staff and long-time associate of Biden, said in Denver yesterday that should the Delaware senator become vice-president of the United States, Biden will insist that all war-crimes indictees in the Balkans face justice and back the NATO integration of the South-East European countries." B92 (Belgrade), 28 August 2008. Mr. Kaufman is not a state governor, but a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors.
     "Biden has been a major supporter of American propaganda tools like the Arabic satellite channel al-Hurra, hinting at a conviction that the problem isn't Washington's policies so much as the packaging of those policies." Scott MacLeod. Time, 27 August 2008.
     "It is true that Biden talks of his support for Israel in principle, but the reality is that he has done his utmost to thwart keeping the possibility of a military option open to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons. As a result he was even praised recently on the Iranian regime’s official propaganda arm, Press TV." Tom Gross, National Review Online, 30 August 2008.

Will VOA cuts be an issue in the presidential campaign? (updated)

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"In a move seen as a foreign policy embarrassment for Senator Obama’s vice-presidential running mate, the Senate staff of Senator Joe Biden was said to be involved in stopping the Voice of America (VOA) radio programs to Russia just 12 days before Moscow launched its military attack on Georgia." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 23 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     Update: "The BBG spokesperson denies that Senator Biden’s staff played any special role in supporting the elimination of VOA radio broadcasts to Russia, which was described by a media freedom nonprofit, FreeMediaOnline.org, as a foreign policy and public diplomacy blunder. In 2005, a CNN news report accused Senator Biden of playing politics with U.S. international broadcasting." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 27 August 2008.

Moving the needle? How about pinning the needle?

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Former president Jimmy Carter said Wednesday that if Barack Obama were elected president, he could improve the US image overseas 'in 10 minutes' with a strong inaugural speech, according to a broadcast interview with Voice of America." DPA, 28 August 2008.
     "Carter lit into the present administration, at least by inference, saying that Obama can say: 'When I am president of the United States, we will never torture another prisoner. While I am president of the United States, we will never go to war against another country unless our own security is directly threatened. When I am President of the United States, we will be the champion of human rights all over the earth.' Is that a surprising message for the government to beam to the world? No, says VOA public affairs officer Noreen Kinnavy. 'By its charter, we have to cover all aspects of our society.'" Broadcasting & Cable, 27 August 2008. See also VOA News, 28 August 2008.

Deaths of Tom Kneitel and Koji Yamada, shortwave hobby writers.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Tom Kneitel, who loved radios from the time he was a kid, turned his hobby into a career, writing magazine articles and books for other radio buffs. Known by his CB handle 'Tomcat,' Kneitel was a storied figure in the world of CBs, short-waves and scanners." Orlando Sentinel, 24 August 2008. "'He kind of defined the personal communications hobby -- he brought together the whole range of disparate subcultures if you will -- it's all hobby radio. He was the one who brought them together. He saw the fun in the whole thing.'" American Radio Relay League, 25 August 2008. See also tribute at Popular Communications, where Kneitel was the founding editor. -- I remember Kneitel's advice column in Electronics Illustrated in the 1960s. When a reader would ask how to modify a certain receiver or transmitter, he would sometimes invoke Kneitel's Law: "If that damn thing works at all, leave it alone." Advice I have followed since.
     "Mr. Koji Yamada, Japanese famous shortwave writer, died by liver cancer on August 19. He was 67 years old. He just returned from the trip to KBS World Radio in Korea in July. He was called 'BCL no kamisama' (Ace BCL) in Japan. He wrote a great many books of shortwave listening in Japan. He was a mastermind of 1970-1980's 'BCL boom' in Japan, producing more than 3,000,000 young shortwave listeners (BCL). He had many friends in shortwave radio stations in the world, especially South Korea and Taiwan. In March this year he wrote a new book 'Resuming BCL' for aged who were the BCL in their young days, and the books were sold out." Takahito Akabayashi, DX Listening Digest, 28 August 2008. BCL stands for broadcast listener. It is the common term in Japan and elsewhere in East Asia for hobbyist listeners to long distance shortwave and medium wave broadcasts. The featured radio of the BCL boom was the Sony ICF-5900W.

Death of Abie Nathan, offshore peace broadcaster.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Abie Nathan, an Israeli peace activist who blazed trails to Egypt and the Palestinians that his country would eventually follow, died on Wednesday. He was 81. ... From 1973 to 1993 his "Voice of Peace" radio station, on a ship anchored off the Israeli coast, broadcast pop music and messages of peace in English, Hebrew and Arabic. Short of funds to continue to operate the station, he scuttled the vessel in 1993, the same year Israel and Arafat's PLO signed their first interim peace deal." Reuters, 27 August 2008.
     "In 1973 he began the Voice of Peace, a radio station which transmitted from a former Dutch cargo vessel anchored in international waters off the coast of Tel Aviv. The station was funded in part by John Lennon and had 20 million listeners during the 1970s. The Voice of Peace, which broadcast mostly popular music programmes, stopped its transmissions in 1988." Radio Netherlands, 27 August 2008.
     "Abie will be remembered ... as the man from 'Twilight Time,' the unforgettable program on the Voice of Peace, with its daily moment of silence - perhaps the last time we heard silence here, not just incessant intolerable noise. When the Peace Boat was sunk by its founder, Abie and all his charm sank with it in the public awareness." Gideon Levy, Ha'aretz, 28 August 2008.
     "Doing the “right thing” around here means eulogizing Abie Nathan as the 'peace sailor' and the 'fighter for peace' while saying nothing about his ongoing ideological criminality and illegal meetings with terror leaders, just because it was done on behalf of the holy peace." Uri Orbach, Ynetnews, 30 August 2008.
     "On Yom Kippur in 1973, when I heard planes overhead and rumors of an impending war on two fronts, I came home from synagogue and listened to the only station that was broadcasting on Yom Kippur - Abie Nathan's 'Voice of Peace.' His message: 'Soldiers must refuse orders, and must not fight. Instead, they should extend a peaceful hand to the attacking Egyptian and Syrian armies.' Throughout the day, Mr. Nathan played the song '(All We Are Saying Is) Give Peace A Chance,' and this was the only radio station that was operating. ... A few days into the Yom Kippur War, Israeli intelligence closed down Mr. Nathan's transmitter, which operated from Israel hotel magnate Yekutiel X. Federman's Dan Hotel in Tel Aviv." David Bedein, The Bulletin (Philadelphia), 29 August 2008.
     "Even Abie Nathan's detractors spoke warmly of him on Thursday." Jerusalem Post, 28 August 2008.
     The station was heard widely via its 50 kilowatt medium wave signal. See technical details in Wikipedia's Voice of Peace entry. -- Didn't Nathan transmit for a time off the coast of Cyprus, to placate the civil war there? Or did he just plan to?

TV Martí inteerviews Cuban "punk rocker."

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Gorki Aguila, the "Cuban rocker whose biting profanity-laced lyrics against the Castro government has previously gotten him in trouble is now in detention and expected to face trial Friday. ... In a recent interview with TV Martí, the U.S.-funded anti-Castro news broadcast, Aguila said the Castro government constantly harasses the group, because the music caught officials by surprise." Miami Herald, 27 August 2008. TV Martí can be "anti-Castro" or "news," but it can't be both.

"Alone, disliked and mistrusted."

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"It will take time to repair the damage done to America's image abroad. The perception of any country is shaped by a series of events that create a general image. These events are cast as human interest stories by the foreign media, including those in countries where a central U.S. foreign policy objective is to promote democracy and human rights. ... Right after 9/11, the U.S. benefited from global solidarity. Today it is largely alone, disliked and mistrusted, with worldwide consensus that in the key area of human rights and the rule of law, the U.S. disgraced itself." Lanny A. Breuer and Mark Brzezinski, Washington Times, 28 August 2008.

Public diplomacy from the Legislative Branch.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
The first Muslim member of Congress, Minnesota Democratic Representative Keith Ellison's "dovish foreign policy is just about the opposite of the Bush administration's, yet he has teamed up with the State Department on public diplomacy to tout what he calls 'core' American values of democracy and human rights. He has done events with U.S. embassies overseas and speaks to visiting groups in Washington arranged by the State Department, such as a delegation of French Muslims last month." Fox News, 27 August 2008.

Evidence that Radio Sawa is just like U.S. commercial radio.

Posted: 30 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"I just wanted to express my madness about the lack of good radio stations that you can tune in while heading to work every morning. ... The one driving me mad is the Arab radio station Radio Sawa broadcasting from Washington through Dubai (as they say) … Radio Sawa for an unknown reason plays the same music every single day. I do not understand whether it is a lack of managing the station or lack of records in their studio. It’s so pathetic that every time I tune in to Radio Sawa It’s always the same ten lousy singers singing the same ten low class songs!" Nawaf Abu-Ghazaleh (Dubai), letter to 7 Days (UAE), 28 August 2008.

U.S. Iraq withdrawal: Alhurra reports, State deflects.

Posted: 29 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States asked Iraq for permission to keep troops there to 2015 but compromised with Iraqi negotiators on 2011, Iraqi President Jalal Talabani said. ... 'It was a U.S. proposal for the date which is 2015, and an Iraqi one which is 2010, then we agreed to make it 2011,' Talabani said in an interview with al-Hurra TV, a transcript of which was posted on his party's website on Wednesday." Reuters, 28 August 2008. The Alhurra interview is also cited by Fox News, 27 August 2008. And Xinhua, 27 August 2008. And Al Alam (Iran), 27 August 2008. But not by the BBC or RFE/RL (at least in English) websites. VOA reports the story, but does not cite Alhurra.
     "Q: Iraqi President Talabani is quoted as having said in a TV interview with Al Hurra that the United States had asked Iraq for permission to maintain a U.S. troop presence there until 2015. Is that correct? [Robert Wood, Deputy Spokesman]: What I can say, Arshad, is that, as you know, there are discussions going on between the United States and Iraqi Government. ... I don’t have anything new to offer other than what we’ve said, and that we think this is an important agreement." State Department press briefing, 27 August 2008.

Al Jazeera disinvited from Golden, Colorado, backyard (updated).

Posted: 29 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Golden City Manager Mike Bestor has withdrawn his barbecue invitation to a news channel based in the Middle East after a community uproar that spilled over into the City Council Thursday night. Bestor said he issued the invitation to Al Jazeera Englis, which is based in the Middle East, as a private citizen. The network planned to do interviews at the gathering as part of its Democratic National Convention next week. The city issued a statement Thursday night in which Bestor said he realized his job indirectly linked the event to the city." Denver Post, 21 August 2008.
     Al Jazeera: "All of us at al-Jazeera English hope that you take the time to learn a bit more about what we do and what we represent. We want to thank you for giving us the opportunity to visit your city and we assure you that our reporting will be nothing less than balanced, informative and professional." Denver Post, 23 August 2008.
     "Pre-chosen Golden residents were scheduled to dine on al-Jazeera-provided hot dogs and hamburgers and be interviewed about their reactions to Obama's speech as well as views on health care and the environment." Denver Post, 23 August 2008.
     "During two hours of public comment at the council meeting, residents spoke for and against al-Jazeera broadcasting from Golden. Jim Dale, who is a veteran, said at the meeting that he has fought for First Amendment rights and welcomes the network. Others questioned whether the network will skew coverage a particular way and whether the network's presence is disrespectful to veterans and those serving in the military. 'It's not OK for the city to roll out the red carpet for a network that is so closely tied to terrorists,' said Steve Hosie." Denver Post, 24 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     Update: "Word spread that three rival biker gangs ... declared a truce for the night so they could meet at the Buffalo Rose in a united protest against al-Jazeera. But the network stood its ground and set up its cameras. Across the street ... protesters had shirts printed up for the occasion, saying 'Buffalo Rose/Tokyo Rose' in English and Arabic, although they botched the Arabic translation. ... Across the street, a smaller group of Golden residents lined up in a counterprotest. A bunch of right-wing fanatics, grumbled one." Washington Post, 28 August 2008. See also report on KDVR-TV (Denver), 29 August 2008.

Burma: radio for weather and objectivity.

Posted: 28 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio has long been an important source of news and information in Myanmar, and many listen in for news of relief and recovery efforts. Kyaw Kyaw, with two other families, purchased a US$5 radio - allowing them to listen to weather broadcasts - an activity they now recognise could well save their lives in future. ... Some also sees radio as a more objective source of information: 'I like to listen to both state-owned and foreign [Burmese programme] radios like BBC and VOA (Voice of America),' said Lwin Maung, a 32-year old fisherman in Kunchangone who often tunes into the latter’s regular Burmese broadcasts." Integrated Regional Information Networks, 27 August 2008.

International television comes to Macs.

Posted: 28 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Online television streaming service Livestation has launched a Mac client, bringing free streaming news television to Apple fans. P2P powered Livestation launched last year as a streaming television platform that offered legal feeds from news services such as the BBC, later adding additional channels including Russia Today, Al Jazeera English, Euronews and France 24." The Inquisitr, 27 August 2008.

RFA's "profound disappointment" about Olympics accreditation.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"At the conclusion of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Radio Free Asia (RFA) today expressed profound disappointment at the Beijing Olympic Committee’s barring of an RFA reporter accredited to cover the Games. Despite RFA’s repeated requests and fulfillment of all media accreditation requirements, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs failed to produce the Olympic Identity and Accreditation Card (OIAC) required of RFA’s Tibetan-American journalist Dhondup Gonsar. ... 'Regrettably, the world has learned that China remains hostile to the free flow of information, which prevents the Chinese people from acquiring essential information about the world and about their own country.'" RFA press release, 25 August 2008.

Analysis (finally) of the NTDTV-Eutelsat contretemps.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"So what are the facts here? That Eutelsat suffered the loss of power back in June is undoubted. That EuroNews and NTDTV lost their carriage is also correct. However, EuroNews quietly and diligently gained carriage elsewhere (on AsiaSat 2 at 100.5 deg East). Much the same options were open to NTDTV, but one has to wonder why (in the words of one industry insider) 'nobody is taking their calls'. Perhaps NTDTV is simply using the whole unfortunate incident to protest, happily raising its profile but at the same time creating for itself a reputation that the station really is too hot to handle. ... Eutelsat, not unreasonably, hopes this storm will quickly blow over. But NTDTV must also understand that in carrying the programming that it does – much of which is excellent and uncontroversial – it isn’t wise to shoot your carrier." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 25 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Glassman in Qatar.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Under secretary of State for public diplomacy James Glassman visits Doha. "'We strongly believe that the war against violent extremism is not just a military struggle, in fact it is mostly a struggle having to do with the ideas and in that struggle we have a common cause with the people of Qatar, the people of the region and the government of the region as the threat in this region is not great as compared to the United States.' ... Regarding the image of America that people in the Middle East have, he said, 'As far as the US image is concerned there are certainly areas where the majority of people in this region disagree with our policy. Overtime the policy will change and I think that the friendship between the people here and the people in the US will grow.'" The Peninsula (Doha), 26 August 2008.

New pay website aggregates Arabic television streams.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"JumpTV and Neulion announced the launch of a new online service – www.talfazat.com – that delivers the largest selection of live and on-demand Arabic television content available anywhere. Talfazat.com offers Arabs worldwide an opportunity to tune into their favorite live television channels or on-demand programs with a simple Internet connection. Talfazat.com features more than 35 of the most popular channels and over thousands of hours of video-on-demand from leading Arabic content providers including Dubai TV, LBC, Aljazeera News, Aljazeera English, Rotana, Future TV, New TV, 2M and many others. ... Talfazat.com is a subscription-based service." JumpTV press release, 26 August 2008. BBC Arabic, Alhurra, and the Arabic streams of France 24, EuroNews, DW-TV, and Russia Today are not among the offered channels.

Al Jazeera looks at privatization "in the long term."

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera, the Arab broadcaster owned by the Emirate of Qatar, could be privatised if its plan to expand into televising the Champions League and other sports proves lucrative. Wadah Khanfar, the network's director-general ... said: 'It will be up to the board to decide, but it is a realistic possibility in the long term. But it is not realistic in the next two years. We have to be able to maintain the independence of our editorial line and we have to no longer depend on subsidy. We have a plan - that will take a few years - so that we become self-financing.'" The Times, 26 August 2008.
     Deal with OTRUM ("hospitality entertainment specialists") puts Al Jazeera in more European and Middle Eastern hotel rooms. WorldScreen.com, 25 August 2008.

International broadcasting and the Democrats.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
At the Democratic National Convention: "All the usual networks are here, but it’s the foreign outlets that are worth a second look. The Arabic language news network Al Jazeera is one of the international networks including the BBC and Agence France Presse. On their Web site, Al Jazeera promises to provide 'news, views and a healthy degree of skepticism.'" KMGH-TV (Denver), 25 August 2008.
     "On the Al-Jazeera English Web site, the analysis of Biden presented by Marwan Bishara, 'Al-Jazeera's senior political analyst,' was seriously flawed factually and poorly researched." Dave Kopel, Rocky Mountain News, 25 August 2008.
     "In September 1998, for example, Biden told the Czech foreign minister that cutting radio broadcasts into Iran might better encourage dialogue. ... Biden's political games have made him Tehran's favorite senator. As Gen. David Petraeus struggled to unite Iraqis across the ethnic and sectarian divide, Iran's Press TV seized on Biden's plan for partitioning Iraq and featured his statements with the headline 'US plans to disintegrate Iraq.'" Michel Rubin, Washington Post, 26 August 2008.
     "Iranian Press TV is covering the Democratic National Convention. On the first day, correspondent Jihan Hafiz talked to former U.S. president Jimmy Carter, former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry, and others." MEMRI, 26 August 2008.

International broadcasters provide news of Iranian clergy corruption.

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Abbas Palizdar -- a former director of fundamental studies at the Research Institute of the Iranian Parliament ... exposed 123 cases involving alleged economic corruption among high-ranking Iranian clergy... Initially, the Iranian officialdom sought to ignore Palizdar. His speeches received no attention in the state-controlled press for a couple of weeks. But the story spread on the Internet, and foreign broadcasters such as Voice of America-Persian, the British Broadcasting Corporation, and Radio Farda pursued his allegations -- Farda even aired an interview with Palizdar in which Palizdar claimed Ayatollah Hossein Nouri-Hamadani, chairman of the judiciary committee of the Iranian parliament, had attempted to suppress the findings of his investigations." Ali Alfoneh, American Enterprise Institute, 21 August 2008.

The hazards of working for Alhurra in Iraq (updated).

Posted: 26 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"When the U.S. government put up the money for a new TV network in Iraq in early 2004, one of its first recruits was Mahmoud Fouad, 35, who was assigned to cover security. Though the regional version of the Al-Hurra (Freedom) station has few viewers, the Iraqi channel quickly established itself as a leading source of local news. Fouad soon found himself attracting stares from strangers in the streets, attention that was unnerving at a time when the Sunni insurgency was gathering pace. Threats forced him to flee his home, and his parents were ordered by gunmen to disown him, for fear of their lives." Liz Sly, Chicago Tribune, 2 August 2008.
     Update: "The article incorrectly asserts that the pan-Arab version of Alhurra Television has few viewers. In fact, independent research firms such ACNielsen state that Alhurra has a weekly reach of 26 million people, a vast majority of whom find the news to be credible." Alhurra spokesperson Deirdre Kline, letter to Chicago Tribune, 25 August 2008.

I'm sure U.S. corporations would be more than happy to allow the U.S. government to manipulate their international advertising (updated).

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Let's lose the government-centric mentality and engage in cooperative marketing with America's dynamic private sector. You'll find people clamoring for American products like iPods and Nike shoes in places around the world where we've never had a consulate, much less a library or a cultural center. Why not harness the power of America's global brand leaders to tell stories with cross-cultural appeal? If the U.S. government was engaged, Nike's pre-Olympics ad campaign could feature Joe Alexander, an All-American college basketball star who grew up playing pickup games on public courts in Beijing and Hong Kong. Coca Cola and the U.S. government could team up to sponsor concerts by Dhani, an Indonesian rock star whose father and grandfather were militant Islamists, but who today preaches tolerance." Frederick (Rick) Barton and Matthew Rojansky, Des Moines Register, 18 August 2008.
     "There are countless acts of public diplomacy being engaged in every day by NGOs, companies, cultural, religious and athletic organizations. But as a strategic matter, it has been a scattershot approach. The next U. S. president should make an effort to consolidate and guide these measures under a single roof that should span government and the private sector. I endorse a public-private Institute for Public Diplomacy that puts public diplomacy resources where they are most needed and where they can most amplify American messages and values." Jay T. Snyder, The Buffalo News, 18 August 2008.
     Diplomacy, including public diplomacy, can only be the purview of a national government. So while private international outreach is desirable, private public diplomacy is not possible. Furthermore, the NGOs, companies, and other organizations have good reasons to keep their international activities separate from those of the U.S. government. Universities, mentioned in Mr. Snyder's essay, should study but not become involved in U.S. public diplomacy, for reasons of academic independence.
     Update: "Expecting Nike or Coke to welcome government efforts to piggyback messages onto their global ad campaigns is a non-starter. The public and private sectors don't engage together that way internationally. ... We need a holistic, comprehensive approach to public diplomacy: Use the new technology in strategic combination with the proven human elements of effective public-diplomacy programs, including educational and cultural exchanges and next-generation leadership initiatives." Doug Wilson, Des Moines Register, 25 August 2008.

Challenges of the commercial side of international broadcasting.

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"As the newly installed head of global content at ITV, Mr Bartlett has a responsibility that could make or break Britain's biggest commercial broadcaster: finding new sources of income as the old ones dry up. The 53-year-old Californian is responsible for producing programmes that will make the broadcaster money when sold overseas, either complete or as formats to be adapted for different markets. One of the few shreds of comfort for ITV [is] £30m of foreign sales from the reality show, Come Dine With Me. All Mr Bartlett has to do is replicate that success, the work of one of his predecessors, every year and several times over. ... 'I guess my head is in the global content side, but my heart is in the PLC.'" Financial Times, 23 August 2008. Is "PLC" product life cycle? Or (less likely) Presbyterian Ladies' College?

World Service correspondent's comments about Taliban become tabloid fodder.

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Lyse Doucet, ... [BBC World Service] veteran correspondent and presenter, who played a key role in the BBC's coverage of the war in Afghanistan in 2001, told the Edinburgh International Television Conference: "What's lacking in the coverage of the Afghans is the sense of the humanity of the Afghans. 'In the Prince Harry coverage for example, there were all these people out there you never really saw them. You knew that the bombs were dropping in that direction and the guns pointing in that direction but you never got a sense of how Afghans are as a people.'" The Telegraph, 25 August 2008.
     "Presenter Lyse Doucet’s astonishing statement comes as an Apache gunship hero revealed the fanatics aim to capture a British soldier and SKIN HIM LIVE on the internet." The Sun, 25 August 2008.
     "She's right. The media not only fails to convey how much misery has been wrought on these proud and hardy people in the supposed search for a chronically-ill bearded cave dweller, who by all accounts has long relocated to Pakistan, it also neglects to explain what Western troops are still doing there." Linda S. Heard, Gulf News, 25 August 2008.

France 24 stringer kidnapped in Somalia.

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "is worried about the abduction of Canadian freelance journalist Amanda Lindhout, Australian freelance photographer Nigel Brennan and Somali photographer Abdifatah Mohammed Elmi. Gunmen kidnapped them and their driver Mahad on 23 August near Mogadishu for reasons that are not yet clear. Lindhout, who is normally based in Baghdad, works for French TV station France 24." RSF, 24 August 2008.

China, soft power, and confusion about U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"As the flags are lowered over the 2008 Olympic games, China is basking in the achievement of a major objective -- an increase of its soft power. ... China has created some 200 Confucius Institutes around the world to teach its language and culture, and while the Voice of America's was cutting its Chinese broadcasts from 19 to 14 hours a day, China Radio International was increasing its broadcasts in English to 24 hours a day." Joseph Nye, Huffington Post, 24 July 2008. Actually, U.S. international broadcasting in Mandarin remains 24 hours a day: 12 hours for Voice of America, 12 hours for Radio Free Asia. VOA English broadcasts on shortwave have been reduced, reflecting the downward trend in shortwave listening in many parts of the world. China Radio International continues to transmit in English 24 hours a day -- different hours to different targets, and with many repeats. But CRI includes several large anglophone nations as target countries that VOA does not, e.g., the United States, Britain, Canada, and Australia.
     "I watched CNN International get blacked out when it ran something Chinese authorities found disagreeable. I watched iTunes notify me it was unavailable in China (Apple was selling songs that advocated for a free Tibet)." Jeff Glor, CBS News, 25 August 2008.

In North Korea, the "cadres" listen to internationl radio.

Posted: 25 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Several sources from North Korea report that 'Irrespective of rank, the trend of listening to foreign radio broadcasts is expanding among officials of the Party, the administration or the National Security Agency, even the rank-and-file servants.' A source from South Pyungan said that 'Everybody knows that those who listen to foreign radio broadcasts the most are the cadres. They have been listening to foreign radio because they were wondering in which situation Chosun (North Korea) is placed in international society.' ... The foreign radio broadcasts that North Koreans can access are 'Voice of Korea,' from the Korean Broadcasting System (KBS), Radio Free Asia (RFA), Voice of America (VOA), Korean language broadcasting from the Yanbian region of China and other broadcasts from South Korean religious organizations and NGOs." Daily NK, 25 Augut 2008.

Add Las Vegas to the places where BBC World News us unlikely to be seen on the local cable.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"We took our road trips west, starting with Las Vegas. ... Vegas itself is ghastly. We stayed at the Bellagio hotel, the famous one from Ocean’s Eleven, and like every hotel there, it’s both smart and grim, because it has slot machines and roulette tables in the lobby. Our kids didn’t know whether they’d gone to heaven or hell. Really, we were there for the scenery, which is jaw-dropping. It looks like Mars." BBC World News America anchor Matt Frei, The Sunday Times, 24 August 2007. See previous post about same subject.

Rwandan official grumbles about BBC, VOA (updated).

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Voice of America (VOA) broadcast local language programmes that harm Rwanda's social cohesion, Information Minister Louise Mushikiwabo said on national television late yesterday. She said that the two radio services in Kinyarwanda and Kirundi - the official languages in Rwanda and Burundi respectively - aired 'programmes that destroy Rwanda's social fabric.' 'The source of the problem comes from Rwandan journalists working for these radio stations,' Mushikiwabo said. She said that government officials had recently stopped granting interviews to the BBC and VOA." Money Biz (Johannesburg), 19 August 2008. Somewhat worrying, as an information minister probably has something to say about the FM rebroadcasts of BBC and VOA in Rwanda.
     Update: "Foreign radio stations, among them the British Broadcasting Cooperation (BBC) and Voice Of America (VOA), have been strongly warned to desist from non factual reporting or else risk being banned from broadcasting in Rwanda." The New Times (Kigali), 23 August 2008.

VOA Hindi radio will close.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America’s (VoA) Hindi service which was launched in 1955 would be shut down with effect from Sept 30, thereby rendering six of its permanent staff in New Delhi jobless. Besides, a large number of VoA listeners would be bereft of its news bulletins to which they were addicted for decades together." Top News (India), 23 August 2008. Actually, VOA Hindi radio broadcasts are slated for closure, but the service continue it television and web presence, for now.

Next U.S. public diplomcy hub: Johannesburg.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"More than ever, foreign citizens receive information and form opinions from television. Around the world, access to the rapidly-growing number of stations on satellite television has dramatically increased the range and quantity of news and information. To address the challenges of this new media environment, the Office of the Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs launched in September 2006, the Regional Media Hubs Initiative, with facilities in Brussels, Dubai, and London. ... Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James Glassman plans to extend the Regional Media Hubs initiative to other regions of the world before the end of 2008, starting in Johannesburg." State Department, 21 August 2008.
     "The US Embassy in Jordan is the headquarters for a regional public diplomacy initiative designed to expand the array of literature available in Arabic, the Arabic Book Program. Established in 1986 and with a second office in Cairo, the program works with local publishers to sponsor translation and publication of select books by American writers into Arabic." Rachel Brandenberg , Diplomatic Courier via International Relations and Security Network, 22 August 2008.

Musically influenced by international radio.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
At the Saturday jazz night atop Baltimore's World Trade Center: "...devoted jazz listeners from the area, including Anatoly Gelvasser, 64, of Owings Mills. Gelvasser first heard jazz when he was growing up in Russia. He says he built a short-wave radio to tune in to Voice of America and listen to jazz. His love of the genre was one factor that contributed to his move from Russia. Since then he has spent his time searching for the best music in the area." Washington Post, 22 August 2008.
     Interview with someone from quartet Franz Ferdinand: "What's with all the references to the shipping forecast on Lucid Dreaming, the new tune you've just posted on your website? I used to go to bed with the radio on. The BBC World Service would be playing and I'd have these weird lucid dreams about what I was hearing -- the shipping forecast would enter my dreams. So would news events. I would respond to what was coming into my ears." Independent (Dublin), 22 August 2008. "I'm livin' on shortwave streams tonight."

Worldfocus: world news for the USA that is not from BBC (updated).

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The correspondent Martin Savidge is leaving NBC News for public television, where he is to become the anchor of a new weeknight broadcast that will focus on international news. WLIW in New York, which is developing the program, is expected to announce his appointment on Wednesday. The newscast, 'Worldfocus,' is scheduled to start broadcasting Oct. 6 on a lineup of public television stations nationwide that is still being assembled but already includes stations in 8 of the top 10 markets. On WLIW and its sister station, WNET, the newscast will replace 'BBC World News,' with two airings on each station each night. ... The newscast will rely on a still-growing list of partnerships, some formal and some ad hoc, with other news organizations that Mr. Rosenwasser said includes NBC, ABC, ITN of Britain, ABC of Australia and a number of European broadcasters, as well as The Christian Science Monitor and The New York Times." New York Times, 19 August 2008.
     Update: "While [U.S.] networks react to breaking international news, their default position has become the titillating and freaky: Lost coeds or toddlers, divorce by homicide, celebrity gossip and political mud-slinging, as partisan hacks opine from the safety of cozy studios. Recognizing the void this slide has created, a few alternative outlets have stepped forward. In addition to 'BBC World News America,' some PBS stations will begin carrying 'Worldfocus,' a nightly half-hour devoted to global reporting and issues hosted by NBC News' Martin Savidge, scheduled to premiere in October." Brian Lowry, Variety, 22 August 2008.
     At the Republican national convention in St. Paul: "The glowing ring of big-time media signs is a convention icon. Beyond being colorful, they send a huge message: The World Is Watching. The media giants are definitely coming, but the mix is different than at previous conventions. Many have scaled back for budget reasons, thanks to a shifting media landscape and the long primary fight. ... The illuminated media ring in St. Paul will feature more outlets, such as Voice of America and Alhurra TV — and fewer from the likes of CBS and ABC." TwinCities.com, 23 August 2008.

Israel shuts down BBC relay, other stations, in Hebron.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The IDF shut down BBC radio transmitters in Hebron on Wednesday, acting on orders of the Communications Ministry and citing interference with communications at Ben-Gurion International Airport. The IDF Spokesman said the transmitters were illegal, adding that the Communications Ministry had found them to be jeopardizing contact between Ben-Gurion's control tower and passenger aircraft. BBC employees had raised the issue during a press conference held by Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni on Wednesday. A government official said in response that in addition to the BBC's transmitters, a number of additional transmitters had been shut down, including some inside Israel, as they were 'endangering civilian aviation, a problem we have been suffering from for a long time.'" Jerusalem Post, 21 August 2008.
     "Israeli forces invaded Hebron late on Wednesday morning and forced their way into the offices of "One FM" radio and arresting the director of the station Mohammad Qafisha. Israeli soldiers also raided the studio of the station Al-Huriyya (Freedom) and arrested worker Mahmoud Qneibi. Israeli forces also invaded the office of Al- Majd radio, which is in the same building as a local BBC affiliate. Witnesses said Israeli troops broke down the door of the office." Ma'an News Agency, 21 August 2008. BBC can till reach the region, even during daylight, from its medium wave relay in Cyprus -- if people in the region remember that there are radio stations on the MW band.

New book looks at the "Al Jazeera Effect."

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Philip Seib takes on a timely subject in 'The Al Jazeera Effect: How the New Global Media Are Reshaping World Politics' (Potomac Books, $25). The book looks at the battle of influence worldwide that takes place not in war zones, but on newscasts, talk shows, blogs and the Internet. Traditional political change has been cast aside for the ways of new media, which is reshaping our world and future." Pasadena Star-News, 23 August 2008. See also Potomac Books Inc. blurbs on Seib's The Al Jazeera Effect and his previous Broadcasts From the Blitz. Apropos of nothing, between undergraduate and graduate studies, in the 1970s, I worked briefly for a previous Potomac Books, editing their Washington refrence book.

Disputing the comparison of Hungary 1956 and Georgia 2008.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"'Liberation' rhetoric before and during the 1956 presidential election campaign may have contributed to East Europeans' exaggerated expectations about Western support for their freedom. But no Western broadcaster, including Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty, encouraged captive peoples to rise up or expect that Western armies would restore their freedom." Former RFE director Ross Johnson, letter to Washington Post, 23 Augut 2008. See previous posts about same subject on 15 August 2008 and 14 November 2006.

Georgia's "media savvy" versus Russia's "vintage Soviet propaganda."

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S.-educated Saakashvili's media savvy, along with his English-language skills and apparently insatiable appetite for interviews, have helped ensure that his version of this month's events has become the dominant narrative in Western media coverage. ... 'The Russian authorities are significantly more interested in getting internal support for their actions,' said [Oleg] Panfilov, who has been monitoring Russian, Georgian and international coverage. 'We are seeing the return of vintage Soviet propaganda. Television expresses only the official point of view of the Kremlin.'" Los Angeles Times, 23 August 2008. -- Although Saakashvili loses points for eating his tie on camera. Moscow Times, 22 August 2008.

"The first modern cyberwar?"

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Theoretically taking down Georgian government sites could have prevented Georgia from publicising its side of the conflict. However, some Georgian sites were migrated to new locations. More importantly, the Georgian government's message was getting out to the world." Aaron Mannes and James Hendler, The Guardian Comment is Free, 22 August 2008.
     "The nature of the Internet is such that it is almost impossible to respond quickly enough. The government doesn't maintain its own botnets—large networks of zombified computers standing ready to attack—but can rent one from a crime network, like the Russian Business Network. Then, through state-controlled media, the government can inspire waves of nationalists to amplify the destructive force. 'Everybody with a laptop has the responsibility to attack the enemy—and you find out who the enemy is by looking at what the government is saying.'" Newsweek, 23 August 2008.

Now iTunes is blocked in China.

Posted: 24 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Apple’s online music store, iTunes, has been blocked in China after more than 40 Olympic athletes downloaded a pro-Tibet album from the site." The Times, 22 August 2008.
     Reporters sans frontières "has confirmed that access to around 30 human rights websites and Chinese-language news websites is still blocked in China, including in the foreign press centres. The latest website to be censored is iTunes. A pro-Tibetan NGO said this was because the iTunes site enabled athletes in Beijing to listen to pro-Tibetan songs." RSF, 22 August 2008.

An Englishman's gig on CRI.

Posted: 23 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"A North Derbyshire man who hosts a show on a popular English-language radio station in China is living an Olympic dream by experiencing the hype first hand. Richard Bradbury, from Hollingwood, went to China on a one-month trip but three years later is still living and working in Beijing. He co-hosts a radio show called 'The Pulse' on China Radio International after impressing station bosses with the demo tape he sent in while trying to secure a job and a visa to allow him to stay in the country." Derbyshire Times, 22 August 2008. The Pulse is mainly for CRI's English-speaking audience inside China.

A bit of World Service at the Olympics closing ceremony.

Posted: 23 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
At the the Beijing Olympics closing ceremony, during the ceremonial handover to the 2012 London Summer Olypics: "An animated title sequence bookended by the BBC World Service call sign, This Is London, will be played on the screens as a red double-decker bus, No 2012, arrives in the stadium. ... Jerusalem, Greensleeves and excerpts from the shipping forecast read by Radio 4 regular Zeb Soanes interweave with three traditional sea shanties with harmonies based on the chimes of Big Ben." The Guardian, 23 August 2008.

Does the BBG like RFE/RL better than VOA?

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"FreeMediaOnline.org has learned ... that Senator Biden’s staff had told the BBG staff it would be safe to stop VOA Russian broadcasts and beef up Prague and Moscow-based RFE/RL. RFE/RL is incorporated in Delaware, Senator Biden’s and Mr. Hirschberg’s home state, while Jeff Trimble has for years been trying to preserve the future of the semi-private RFE/RL, his former employer, at the expense of the Congressionally chartered Voice of America. Still, to avoid any bad publicity, the BBG staff suggested that the decision be carried out without any public announcement from the BBG or VOA, and set the termination date for late July, when most members of Congress are away from Washington. Voice of America director Dan Austin carried out the BBG order. Previous VOA directors who had opposed BBG directives were either fired or had to resign. ... The BBG also forced RFE/RL journalists in Prague to adopt a more Russia-patriotic and less political tone to appeal to a Russian audience and increase ratings." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 20 August 2008. A "less political tone" means less propaganda, which improves credibility, which, yes, increases audience size. I am wondering what is wrong with having a larger audience, as long as the truth has not been compromised.
     "The Administration's FY 2008 budget, as approved by Congress, provided that all BBG broadcasting to Georgia was to be done by RFE/RL after September 30, 2008. However, given the critical nature of events in Georgia, this week the BBG approved continuation of VOA Georgian surge broadcasts for the foreseeable future." Broadcasting Board of Governors press release, 19 August 2008.
     "According to a source within the bipartisan but Bush-appointed Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which manages VOA and other government sponsored U.S. broadcasting, Senator Biden’s staff successfully worked behind the scenes with the BBG to kill VOA Russian radio broadcasts and almost succeeded in closing down VOA radio service to Georgia. ... The BBG staff, headed by Jeff Trimble, a former acting president of RFE/RL, apparently wanted to terminate Voice of America radio to Russia as quickly as possible to avoid being stopped by any new action in Congress, which had previously reversed similar cuts sought by the BBG and the Bush Administration." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 21 August 2008. See previous posts on 20 August, 15 August, and 10 August 2008.

A visit to the RFE/RL Georgian Service.

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Fresh off another in a mounting series of 16-hour workdays, David Kakabadze, director of the Georgian Service, was prepping for four hours of live broadcasts into Georgia that evening. ... The rest of the five-person Georgian team based in Prague was trickling in after another late night on the job, the 15-person bureau based in Tbilisi no doubt frantically catching up with events on the ground. ... Deputy Director Bidzina Ramischwili, ... who describes himself as 'an anti-Bolshevik, has a mixed history of work and study in Germany and scored a job at RFE/RL after meeting up with old friends at a Georgia-Germany European Championships football qualifier." Prague Post, 20 August 2008.
     "On Aug. 18, President Václav Klaus, known for his pro-Russia views, strongly criticized Georgia in the media, asserting that President Mikheil Saakashvili’s 'fatal' actions against the separatist region of South Ossetia were to blame for the current conflict. ... 'To hear this from someone who experienced the communist era, who knows what it means to live under communist rule, is surprising and disappointing,' said Radio Free Europe Georgia Service Director David Kakabadze in Prague. 'I agree with his statement that it is important to know who started the conflict, but I’m surprised he doesn’t know Russia is the side provoking its neighbors.'" Prague Post, 20 August 2008.

CPJ protests Georgian blocking of Russian television, websites.

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Committee to Protect Journalists today urged the Georgian government to stop blocking Russian broadcasts and Web sites. According to the Moscow-based radio Ekho Moskvy, Russian Television International (RTVi) broadcasting was cut after it aired Ekho Moskvy’s interview with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on the conflict in South Ossetia and the future of the relationship between Russia and Georgia. ... RTVi is a New York-based independent Russian-language broadcaster that broadcasts via satellite; their programs in Georgia are transmitted by local cable companies. ... According to the Moscow Times, Georgian authorities have been blocking Russian news channels Rossiya, Channel One, and NTV, as well as Web sites ending in '.ru' since August 9. Zviad Pochkhua, editor-in-chief of the Tbilisi-based English-language newspaper The Financial, told CPJ that Russian news sites are accessible only via proxy servers, and that Russian news channels have been blocked since last week due to 'biased reporting and propaganda.'" CPJ, 19 August 2008. See also RTVI website.

Livestation notes surge in Russia Today viewing.

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Livestation, the company which delivers high-quality live TV over broadband, says viewing figures for its Russia Today live streaming service increased ten fold during the two weeks of fighting in South Ossetia. Viewers spent an average of 25 minutes a visit watching Russia Today's live coverage unfold on the Livestation service. Viewing for all the Livestation live channels, which include BBC World, Al Jazeera English, Euronews and France 24 increased significantly during the two weeks, but Russia Today's figures significantly outstripped the rest. ... 'With no need for satellite dishes pointing in the right direction, set-top-boxes, smart cards and expensive subscriptions, people can now watch what matters most to them on their computers anywhere in the world.'" Livestation press release, 20 August 2008.

BBC calling the USA: shortwave out, magazine in.

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Those silly British, don't they know no one wants to buy magazine ads? The BBC doesn't care. Jolly good. The company was going to launch a massive print publication no matter what, and today we're blessed with the fruits of its labor. We're blessed with BBC Knowledge Magazine, which features a title that makes us want to run to the nearest newsstand and pay $5.99 (.5 quid). According to a release, Knowledge is 'aimed at 'the curious mind' and offering informative, entertaining and inspirational features on science, history and nature,' or exactly like Mentalfloss, except backed by a multinational corporation." FishbowlNY, 19 August 2008.

Maybe he can cover the closing ceremony (updated).

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"There was also no new information forthcoming Monday on the status of the attempt by a broadcast service funded by the American Government, Radio Free Asia, to send a Tibetan-American, Dhondup Gonsar, to cover the games. Mr. Gonsar was accredited by the U.S. Olympic Committee and cleared for a credential, but the Chinese Foreign Ministry has failed to issue visa clearance for him. The utility of any permission for Mr. Gonsar to cover the Olympics is clearly dwindling, as the Games wind down. 'The approval of visa is something to do with the authority of the hosting country. They also have the right not to disclose the information on this matter,' [secretary-general and executive vice president of the Beijing Olympic organizing committee, Wang Wei] said defensively." New York Sun, 18 August 2008. See also RFA website and its coverage of the Olympics.
     Update: "'We’ve asked for more information on this case, which we are told is pending,' IOC spokeswoman Giselle Davies said Tuesday in response to CPJ’s e-mail request for information about Gonsar’s visa. ... 'By refusing to let me in, China is really missing a chance to show its openness, particularly after the events in Tibet in March,' Gonsar said." Committee to Protect Journalists, 20 August 2008.

Radio in India then (1970s) and now.

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Today, the modern radio is sharp, smart and digital; cigarette case shaped devices priced at a few hundred and aimed at a crowd for whom short and medium waves do not exist. These are the digital FM radios that, industry experts promise, will shrink further in size. ... [Aslam Sher Khan, one of the biggest Indian stars of the 1970s] prefers the short-wave programmes from all corners of the world -- Voice of America and BBC being her favourites. 'Never mind, where I am in the house, I can hear my radio. There are no hassles of ear-plugs and I never lose track of the time,' she says. Yet, it’s a sign of the times that only one store in Delhi -- in the old quarters of the city -- stocks standalone Philips radios. Shweta S, a 30-something publishing professional based in Delhi, blames bad reception of SW and MW for the death of the radio. At one time, Radio Ceylon was hot with music lovers. This was where Ameen Sayani hosted Cibaca Geetmala, and this was also where one listened to the latest Western music, still alien to the Akashvani fans. On Sunday evenings, the ‘70s youth who loved Beatles and Abba tuned in. 'I am so tired of the frequent ad breaks and incessant banter of FM RJs that I would really like to tune into SW and MW but all I get are garbled sounds,' she says."
Screen (Mumbai), 22 August 2008.

Via Al Jazeera, Golden, Colorado, hopes to tone down the hate (updated).

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"An estimated 120 million households in 80 countries will get a selective snapshot of the West when Al Jazeera English network pays a visit to Golden for two days during the Democratic National Convention. 'Our objective is to present a slice of mainstream America,' said Julian Ingle, political program editor for Al Jazeera's Washington bureau. ... 'This is an international broadcast and we're trying to show the world that we're decent, happy people,' [Golden city manager Mike] Bestor said. 'So we welcome them. They (viewers) can see what life in Golden is all about and maybe they can decide to not hate us.'" Denver Post, 12 August 2008.
     Update: "Despite some news stories that suggested otherwise, Al Jazeera English approached our city staff to let them know of their plans to broadcast from Golden. They didn't ask for permission. City staff treated them professionally and respectfully as they would any news agency. ... The city manager believed by holding the BBQ at his home he would be able to help make sure that they get a representative group of Golden citizens and that we'd stand a better chance of their coverage fairly capturing Golden, its diverse political views, and our collective commitment to democracy and the democratic process. No city funds are being used." Golden mayor Jacob Smith, YourHub.com, 20 August 2008.

RSF reminds us that RFI reporter is still in Niger prison (updated).

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontières "is dismayed by the obstinacy with which Niger’s authorities are keeping journalist Moussa Kaka in prison, despite a judge’s decision to dismiss the case against him. At the request of the prosecutor’s office, a Niamey appeal court today overturned a ruling issued by an investigating judge in June for Kaka’s provisional release. ... The director of privately-owned Radio Saraounia and Niger correspondent of Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, Kaka was arrested in Niamey on 20 September 2007 on a charge 'complicity in a conspiracy against state authority.'" RSF, 19 August 2008. Update: "Radio France International correspondent Moussa Kaka's bail demand has been rejected by Niger's Court of Appeal. The decision came after a senior judge ruled there was no case against Kaka earlier this month and ordered the charges to be dropped." RFI, 20 August 2008.

NTDTV still tring to get back on apparently fried W5 transponder (updated again).

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"'As of August 1, Eutelsat has had a free transponder facing Asia, and is contract-bound to resume the NTDTV transmission immediately,' said Jan Jekielek, International Society for Human Rights (ISHR) representative in Poland (and also a staff member of The Epoch Times), who organized the event. Eutelsat, in an August 13 letter to ISHR from Deputy CEO Jean-Paul Brillaud, reiterated its position that a technical malfunction on W5 prevents the company from resuming NTDTV’s signal. However, on July 31, Eutelsat ended its contract with the Broadcasting Board Governors (BBG), the independent federal agency responsible for all U.S. government-backed international civilian broadcasting, opening up another W5 transponder over Asia, The Epoch Times has learned. ... Ton Van Anh, Vietnamese Radio Free Asia correspondent, also spoke at the event. 'People in many Asian countries have to be very discreet to receive independent broadcasts, and even then they are often jammed,' observed Van An Anh, adding that now they also have to worry about corporations such as Eutelsat blocking signals." Epoch Times, 15 August 2008. -- The Lyngsat page for Eutelsat W5 shows no stations now using the S1 beam to Asia. See also sat-nd.com, 12 July 2008. And previous post about same subject.
     Update on 19 August: "Eutelsat claims that four of the satellite’s transponders, including C4 and C6, had to be turned off to allow the other 20 to keep going. But Reporters Without Borders has learned that the C6 transponder has been used again for transmission, although reports about the 16 June incident by Eutelsat-Thales Alenia Space (the satellite’s constructor) said this would not be possible." Reporters sans frontières, 18 August 2008. "The response NTDTV has had from Eutelsat is always the same, 'We cannot resume broadcasting for technical reasons. Please contact our competitors.' But these competitors are non-starters for NTDTV as one of the other two satellites is owned by the Chinese Communist Party and the third belongs to Intelsat, a company which, over many years, has not responded to NTDTV's attempts to communicate." Epoch Times, 18 August 2008.
     Update on 21 August: "The IFJ says that the so-called technical problems have evaporated since last week when Radio Free Asia and Voice of America stopped using the Eutelsat satellite. This means that there is a technical availabity for broadcasting NTDTV, contrary to what the leaders of Eutelsat have claimed. ... The IFJ says that it is no surprise that the suppression of the NTDTV channels occured precisely over the highly sensitive period of the Olympic games in China and that the technical excuses do not seem to be founded. 'We expect Eutelsat to stop hiding behind technical mumbo-jumbo and let this broadcaster operate freely.' ... [IFJ adds:] We wish to make it clear that NTDTV was not the only channel affected by the action of Eutelsat to shut down part of its satellite signal capacity for broadcasts to China. We apologise for this innacuracy in our earlier statement. We have offered Eutelsat the opportunity to comment on our press statement." International Federation of Journalists, 20 August 2008. So the fact that BBG is no longer using a Eutelsat W5 does not necessarily free up a transponder for NTDTV, because several broadcasters were affected by the Eutelsat W5 power failure. It would be helpful for Eutelsat to issue a detailed technical description of what happened to W5 and what its remaining capabilities are.

Al-Manar via Indosat's Palapa C2 (updated).

Posted: 21 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. government is concerned that a television channel backed by the Hezbollah militant group is using an Indonesian satellite to broadcast to the Asia-Pacific region, an American Embassy spokesman said Thursday. Al-Manar TV has rented Indonesia's Palapa C2 satellite through operator PT Indosat on a contract due to expire in April 2011, according to Indosat spokeswoman Adita Irawati. ... The U.S. government has informally shared concerns with authorities in Jakarta about Al-Manar broadcasting from Indonesia ... 'The U.S. government has no right to intervene in Indosat's affairs,' [Indonesian Communication and Information Minister Muhammad] Nuh said." AP, 14 August 2008.
     Update: "Australia is seeking to block a radical anti-Israel satellite TV channel linked to the militant Hezbollah group and broadcast from neighbouring Indonesia, the government's broadcast watchdog said on Thursday. ... Launched in 1991 with backing from Iran, the station has just resumed broadcasting into Asia and the Pacific using the Indosat telecommunications service partly owned by the Indonesian government. ... Sasa Djuarsa Sendjaja, head of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission, said the broadcasts posed no threat to the national interest or security. 'We are also monitoring its contents, and it's good to have a balance of news from America and the West,' he said. Al-Manar could only be seen with a satellite dish, in other words by less than one percent of the 226 million people in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country." Reuters, 21 August 2008.

Making U.S. international broadcasting like it used to be.

Posted: 20 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"VOA has played a unique role among U.S. broadcasting entities. It is the only agency mandated by law that explains U.S. foreign policy, presents 'responsible discussions and opinion on [U.S. policy],' and offers a 'balanced and comprehensive projection of significant American thought and institutions.' Unfortunately, VOA has fallen into decline since the end of the Cold War and, in particular, since the demise of the U.S. Information Agency (USIA) in 1999. ... Currently, the BBG lacks clearly defined strategic objectives. Congress and the Administration should delineate the mission of U.S broadcasting, specify the rolls of each organization (i.e., VOA and semi-private entities), define the target audiences, and create a process for targeting, clearing, and assessing messages." Helle C. Dale and Oliver Horn, Heritage Foundation, 18 August 2008.
     "FreeMediaOnline.org has warned the BBG against destroying the U.S.-based Voice of America on air Russian broadcasts and placing all U.S.-funded radio to Russia with the Prague and Moscow-based semi-private Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL). RFE/RL managers and reporters working and living in Russia as Russian citizens are open to intimidation and recruitment by Mr. Putin's secret police. Knowing Mr. Putin's record of silencing independent media in Russia, sabotaging of Internet sites, and using the KGB's successor agency (Mr. Putin's old employer) to intimidate and shut down TV and radio stations, the BBG actions harm media freedom and pose a serious risk to U.S. national security." FreeMediaOnline.org press release, 19 August 2008.
     Many VOA employees will appreciate these expressions of support for VOA. However, restoring the status quo in U.S. international broadcasting is not the way to cope with an increasingly competitive and complicated world media environment.
     The theory is that VOA explains U.S. policies and projects American thought and institutions, while the surrogate stations (RFE/RL and Radio Free Asia) provide news about the target countries.
     This is not the reality of U.S. international broadcasting. In actual practice, VOA also broadcasts news about its target countries. And RFE/RL and RFA cover U.S. policies and reaction covering those target countries. This is because audiences will not put up with having to listen to two U.S. stations to get all the news.
     So, amid finite budgets, limited resources, and scarce talent, U.S. international broadcasting consists of elements that overlap and compete with one other.
     To the Caucasus, to Russia, to Central Asia, to most of East Asia, U.S. international broadcasting faces two daunting tasks. The first is getting reliable news and information out of closed regions. The second is getting that news and information back to audiences in those countries in the face of expanding forms of censorship. U.S. international broadcasting can succeed only if it is consolidated.
     Dale and Horn mention "strategic objectives" for U.S. successful international broadcasting. Audiences for international broadcasting have their own objective, which is to obtain news that is more comprehensive, reliable, and credible than the news they get from their state-controlled domestic media. Content that is a product of "strategic objectives" rather than solid journalism will not attract those audiences.

     See previous posts on 15 August 2008 and 10 August 2008.

The Georgian conflict and the confounding of cross-border information.

Posted: 20 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Georgian authorities have blocked most access to Russian news broadcasters and websites since the outbreak of the conflict with Moscow. Georgia's Interior Ministry said the action was not anti-democratic, but Russian broadcasts could not be allowed to 'scare our population'. ... Georgian media, private and state-owned, are generally under the sway of President Mikheil Saakashvili, who promotes his country as a Western-style democracy. However, the country's main opposition television station was shut by the Interior Ministry at gunpoint in November and some of its equipment was smashed up." PC Magazine, 19 August 2008.
     "Within hours after fighting erupted, Russian hackers had established a site, StopGeorgia.ru, that showed a list of Georgian Web sites targeted and which sites had been brought down, and allowed visitors to download a simple program to enable their own computers to join the attack." UPI, 19 August 2008.
     "NATO calls it iWar... 'It's very easy to cause a lot of trouble using three guys and a laptop.'" Canadian Press, 19 August 2008.
     "What frustrates computer-security experts is that the features that make the Internet such an invaluable resource -- its openness and interconnectedness -- also make it easier for hackers to do harm. As a staple of 21st-century warfare, cyberattacks will become increasingly sophisticated, forcing governments and private industry to build ever-stronger firewalls and other defenses, experts said." CNN, 18 August 2008.
     "Internet access, in one form or another, is being driven into developing nations at an astonishing rate, thanks to a combination of philanthropy and profit-making. ... PC manufacturers, meanwhile, already rely on developing markets in China, Russia, India, and Brazil to drive both growth and profits. Any effective security policy will have to take such growth into account, and plan accordingly. At present, technological dominance and superior infrastructure may give the United States a decisive edge, but history teaches that this edge will inevitably degrade as other countries either catch up or as the threats themselves evolve." Joel Hruska, ars technica, 18 August 2008.
     "From a domestic perspective, the most frightening thing about this whole Georgian cyber-attack situation isn't that we're vulnerable to a similar onslaught of legions of cyber-warriors, government-sponsored or not, it's that Washington doesn't really know what it's doing." Cyrus Farivar, Salon Machinist blog, 18 August 2008.

Voice of Russia expands broadcasts "for Georgia."

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Voice of Russia radio station will increase its broadcasting from Moscow for Georgia by using additional transmitters and increasing airtime. 'Voice of Russia will increase its broadcasting for Georgia by increasing the number of short- and medium-wave transmitters. The broadcasting facilities of the seven transmission units in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Krasnodar and Samara have now been connected,' the Voice of Russia said in a press statement. Moreover, Voice of Russia's Russian programs will be re- broadcast in the Abkhaz capital on the FM frequency at 107.9 MHz. ... On August 9, a decree by Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and the decision by Georgia's National Security Council banned all Russian television and radio channels and barred access to the Russian part of the Internet. Voice of Russia stopped its broadcasting from Tbilisi for Georgia from the early hours of August 8. The radio station started broadcasting for Georgia from Moscow." Interfax, 17 August 2008. See also website of Voice of Russia, successor to Radio Moscow. Sergei tells me these VOR broadcasts are not in Georgian, but Russian: "Most educated Georgians speak fluent Russian so it's not the problem. The poor quality of those programs is another issue."

Former BBCWS MD, and I, remember the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The radio came on a minute or two before 8am on the morning of August 21, 1968. It always did. That was the start of family routine in our north London home. This morning, however, was shocking and unforgettable. The BBC bulletin led on the news that 165,000 Warsaw Pact forces had invaded Czechoslovakia from all points of the compass. ... I was born in Czechoslovakia in 1936, moving to England with my family when I was three. My first thought that morning was for my relatives, living mainly in Moravia. Ann and I, newly married, had visited them in 1961. We had experienced the dragooning of small-town life, the public loudspeakers barking out instructions to the farmers." John Tusa (managing director of BBC World Service 1986 to 1993), The Telegraph, 19 August 2008.
     Even before the Prague Spring, Radio Prague's English service had a relaxed tone, refreshing for stations from communist eastern Europe. One could sense that Czechoslovakia was the Warsaw Pact country most likely to reform. During the Prague Spring, Radio Prague was one of the best international radio stations on the air.
     It may have been the evening of August 20, U.S. time, that U.S. newscasts were reporting the invasion. As a teenager in northern Indiana, I tuned to Radio Prague's English broadcast at 0100 GMT on its 7345 kHz frequency. Instead of the usual "Forward Left" interval signal before the transmission, I heard stern march music. Then a routine broadcast of Radio Prague, making no mention of the invasion. It must have been recorded before the invasion began.
     The next night, Radio Prague did not appear. It did return weeks later, with the Radio Prague staff thanking listeners for their messages of support, and stating that the Soviet troops were not invited. After a few more days, the familiar voices disappeared from Radio Prague's English service, and the station took on a very pro-Soviet line.

     Meanwhile, the North American Service of Radio Moscow, having heard many references to Soviet invasion forces from Western news sources, started referring to U.S. troops in South Vietnam as U.S. invasion forces.
     "It was just at this time, literally days after the invasion, that a 24-year-old Englishwoman started working here at Radio Prague. Her name was Liz Skelton, and a few weeks ago I had the opportunity to record an interview with her as she revisited the building where she had worked 40 years before." David Vaughan, Radio Prague, 17 Augut 2008.

Worldspace reports less loss (updated).

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Worldspace, now known as 1worldspace, posted a net loss of $36 million, compared to $51.2 million, reported a year earlier. The has 171,657 subscribers worldwide, most in India. From 1worldspace press release via Washington Business Journal, 15 August 2008. Update: "The statement showed that the company is completely out of cash. ... To its credit Worldspace has shown that it can trim expenses in these desperate days, as it must given the decline in income in just about every aspect of its sales efforts." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 17 August 2008.

Channel selection at the Olympics media village.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Not that I've had any real time to watch it, but one of the great things about staying in the [Beijing Olympics] media village is the TV we have in our rooms. ... We have a real mixed bag of TV from around the world. In English, there's CNN International, BBC World, CNBC Asia, EuroSport News, HBO (movies in English with Chinese subtitles) and the English-language network of CCTV, China's state broadcast company. We also have MTV China, which mixes videos and other programming in English and Chinese. ... There are also CCTV channels in French and Spanish, as well as several in Chinese. I've also noticed channels from Italy, Korea and France." David Lassen, Ventura County Star, 19 August 2008.

More Olympics related web blocking -- but not in China.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Trying to access the official Olympic Web site (beijing2008.cn, or the English version, en.beijing2008.cn) from a computer on a U.S. military server will turn up only a 'Web site cannot be found' message. Similar problems are encountered when trying to access other Chinese sites with a .cn domain. When asked to try to log on to the Olympic Web site, users at Aviano Air Base, Italy, and U.S. Army Garrison Wiesbaden, Germany, said they could not access the site. Access also was blocked to other China-based Web sites, such as chinadaily.cn, the English language Chinese news service, and english.gov.cn, the official Chinese government Web site, from the Navy base in Naples. The reason for the blockage is a bit unclear. Asked if all Chinese Web sites — those with a dot-cn domain — were blocked from DOD computers, officials from Joint Task Force-Global Network Operations, the organization that oversees computer network security for DOD, gave an answer as cryptic as the scoring system for Olympic boxing." Stars and Stripes, 19 August 2008.

The DW languages are not new; the FM relays are.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Deutsche Welle (DW) Radio, Germany’s international broadcaster, will soon broadcast programmes in three Indian languages, an official said Tuesday.The broadcaster and the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) have signed an agreement to this effect, varsity pro-vice chancellor Latha Pillai said Tuesday. Gyan Vani FM, the radio channel of IGNOU, will facilitate broadcasting of DW-RADIO programming in Hindi, Urdu, Bengali and English over campus radio at 29 universities across the country." Indo-Asian News Service, 19 August 2008. Actually, DW has broadcast in these three languages for many years. The FM rebroadcasts in India are new. They will not include news, which is not allowed on non-AIR FM stations in India.

DW still broadcasts in Romanian and is now on Romanian mobiles.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"COSMOTE Romania announces it has partnered with Deutsche Welle in order to offer its customers directly on their mobile phones the latest news provided by Germany’s international broadcaster, exclusively through the i-mode service. Under the 'News and Weather' section, i-mode users will now be able to have free and easy access to up to date content provided by Deutsche Welle, including the day’s top stories, news, business and politics." COSMOTE press release, 19 August 2008.

Brilliant network for global audience hungry for video.

Posted: 19 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"FORA.tv, (www.FORA.tv) the brilliant ideas network for video discourse and debate, and the Australian Broadcast Corporation, Australia's national public broadcaster, announced today a groundbreaking international licensing agreement and content sharing partnership. ... Through the partnership, ABC will utilize FORA.tv's interactive content delivery platform and a co-branded version of the proprietary FORA Video Player to reach a global audience hungry for entertaining, issue-oriented video." FORA.tv press release, 18 August 2008.

Gates (and some of his budget) for State.

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"My choice [for McCain's secretary of State] would be Robert Gates, the current secretary of Defense. Mr. Gates is an advocate of a strong military supplemented by vigorous 'soft power,' or public diplomacy, and economic aid. Remarkable for a secretary of Defense, he has argued that the State Department is under-budgeted and understaffed. A new secretary of State will face major challenges, among them keeping terrorism at bay, burnishing America's image as a beacon of freedom, and preserving its superpower role as new rising nations seek to share it." John Hughes, Christian Science Monitor, 18 August 2008.

VOA and BBCWS are partners of yacht race. Somehow.

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The acclaimed voice of the Volvo Ocean Race, Guy Swindells, and his radio team have been signed up for the 2008-09 edition of the round-the-world ocean marathon which starts in Alicante in October. ... 'We are ... building on our long-standing radio partners like the BBC World Service and Voice of America.'" Press release via nautica.it, 18 August 2008. What does this partnership entail? The remaining shortwave transmissions of the two stations would be a good way for the yachting teams to follow the news of their race along its route.

Not a banner day for CCTV.

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Tibetan rights campaigners staged a daring protest in Beijing Friday when they rappelled down the half-built new headquarters of state broadcaster China Central Television to unfurl a 'Free Tibet' banner over an Olympic Games billboard." Variety, 17 August 2008.
     "Police spent up to an hour getting them down, yet the incident was not referred to, much less shown, on any of CCTV's 18 channels. In fairness it is always difficult when a story breaks as far as two feet from your watercooler, so let us assume it was simply unable to get any reporters or cameramen outside in time." Marina Hyde, The Guardian sport blog, 16 August 2008.
     Medal count, showing China's big lead in gold medals, features at top of China Radio International Englih home page.

Guantánamo detention: "all about Al Jazeera."

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"After more than six years as a prisoner of the United States, former TV cameraman Sami al-Hajj is back at work with Al-Jazeera, the largest broadcaster in the Arab world, a thorn in the side of most Arab governments - and, by most indications, a target of deep hostility from the Bush administration. ... According to the Defense Department, al-Hajj was just another suspected terrorist among the 780 who have been held as enemy combatants since January 2002 at Guantanamo. But his lawyer, Clive Stafford Smith, says al-Hajj's imprisonment was all about Al-Jazeera. 'We calculated about 135 times he'd been interrogated, and about the first 120 the only interest they had was Al-Jazeera,' Smith said." San Francisco Chronicle, 17 August 2008. See also sidebar, SF Chronicle, 17 August 2008.
     "Al Jazeera's Tom Ackerman reported from the Guantanamo Bay trial of Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver [and] examines what motivated Charles Swift, the US lawyer who defended him." Aljazeera.net, 12 August 2008.

Consolidation of French international broadcasting: trop cher?

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The French commercial broadcaster TF1 is seeking €90 million for its 50% stake in the international news channel France 24, according to a report in this morning’s Les Echos. The demand is deemed too high by the French government and blocks the formation of the new holding company for all French overseas broadcasters." Broadband TV News, 18 August 2008. See also Les Echos, 18 August 2008.

A satellite for Telesur.

Posted: 18 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Venezuela's first satellite, named after independence hero Simon Bolivar, is for broadcast and telecommunications purposes and is due to be launched from China in November, [Hugo] Chavez said. ... The Simon Bolivar will be used to expand the reach of the Venezuela-funded news network Telesur and reduce the cost of frequent state-television live links to speeches by Chavez and other official events." Reuters, 18 August 2008. Uncertain what the DTH capabilities of this satellite will be. It has both ku-band and C-band transponders.

The case for shortwave.

Posted: 17 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Former director of engineering of the International Broadcasting Bureau advocates for shortwave in international broadcasting. "RFE/RL and VOA began a highly successful campaign to launch local AM and FM former Soviet and Eastern Europe 'affiliate' stations to carry their respective programs. In the early days of this endeavor most RFE/RL/VOA/and BIB/BBG members and staff realized that, due to the history of conflict between western and Soviet societies, the so-called 'affiliates' could always 'pull the plug' on the arrangement. ... The 'pull-the-plug' reality, however, may be beginning to sink in to some current BBG members as they see what is happening in places like Azerbaijan, Belarus, Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and many others, not to mention Afghanistan, Iraq and most countries in the Middle East — some of whom profess to be our friends yet are reluctant to allow us access to their radio stations, even for a fee. ... One million real-time listeners, small by shortwave standards, entail very high cost bandwidth requirements on the Internet. The competition, by start-up bloggers for example, could not possibly afford being on shortwave radio. The business example should be: 'Go where your competition can not follow.'" George Woodard, Radio World, 13 August 2008.
     Of the nine countries mentioned by George, the RFE/RL website says it has FM affiliates in Ukraine, Russia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and Iraq. For now.
     As for the internet, this is a timely article, given the recent developments in the Russian-Georgian cyber war, with websites being shut down not only by governments but by individual hackers.
     I have always advocated for a global shortwave capacity for U.S. international broadcasting, to provide information during any future crises. Shortwave is the least interdictable of the media available to international broadcasting. However, with the closure of the IBB relays in Greece and Morocco, USIB shortwave capabilities are, arguably, no longer global.
     As audiences in many parts of the world now have access to FM radio, television (including satellite and cable television), and the internet, fewer are listening to shortwave, and fewer are replacing their shortwave radios. This has led to international broadcasters cutting back on their shortwave transmissions in favor of rebroadcasting, satellite television, and the internet.
     The remaining shortwave listeners are noticing fewer stations on their dials, and increased difficulties in listening due to the proliferation of interfering devices and appliances. (My shortwave listening in northern Virginia is curtailed as I fight a losing battle against local noise.) Will these listeners replace their shortwave radios?
     And, so, in the inevitable future emergencies, when local FM rebroadcasters are shut down, and the internet is blocked by governments and/or hackers, and satellite dishes are confiscated, will there still be the "critical mass" of shortwave radios and shortwave broadcast transmitters to provide information to communities that need it?

     "Unfortunately for us in Ghana, the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation has bailed out of the Shortwave broadcasting which has a wider reach than FM." Amos Safo, Public Agenda (Accra), 18 August 2008.

RFE/RL adds one hour of Georgian. Now try to find it.

Posted: 17 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Until further notice, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Georgia Service will be adding a fourth hour of live, primetime news coverage to its listeners in Georgia and surrounding areas." RFE/RL press release, 11 August 2008.
     "Geez! WTFK?? They issue a press release and then include no details about the subject." Glenn Hauser, DX Listening Digest, 12 August 2008.
     "WTFK" means "What's the frequency, Kenneth?" a phrase that dates back to this 1986 incident. Anyway, Glenn is making the point that the press release does not provide any information about the frequency or even the time of this expanded RFE/RL Georgian broadcast, in case anyone might want to tune in. After some research, Glenn thinks the expansion is at 1800-1900 UTC on 7370 and 9370 kHz.
     To try to verify this, I looked at the RFE/RL Georgian website and clicked on its shortwave link. An English-language page popped up, stating, completely incorrectly: "This service does not have shortwave broadcast available."
     Perhaps RFE/RL is unconcerned about publicizing its shortwave frequencies because it thinks most people in Georgia are listening via its extensive network of FM affiliates in that country. What would be the present status of the FM affiliates in, say, Gori? Or the RFE/RL television affiliate on "6.00 kHz" in that city?

     "David Kakabadze, head of the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty's Georgian Service, said it's no accident that the attacks coincided with Games. 'If you are asking my personal opinion, it's quite likely that it was very carefully planned,' Kakabadze said during a conference call with bloggers sponsored by the Heritage Foundation. 'August is the best time to carry out this kind of operation. Many Western politicians are on holiday, so the Western response took several days. I would say it came a bit too late.'" Washington Times, 15 August 2008.
     "Writing for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Brian Whitmore said: 'Before the guns of August, there were the manoeuvres of July. Less than one month before Russia's armed forces entered Georgia on Aug 8, they held massive military training exercises in the North Caucasus involving 8,000 servicemen and 700 pieces of military hardware.'" The National, 17 August 2008.

Update on the Russian-Georgian propaganda war.

Posted: 17 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The US media, which obviously still has the Cold War macros, cranked out stuff about the awful Russians." Paul Wallis, digitaljournal.com, 16 August 2008.
     "Often I find myself in a minority, 'politically incorrect' corner, in my explanations of who really did what to whom. But in the case of Russia's incursion into Georgia, I find myself in the unaccustomed position of taking the majority view. So much so, that a couple of 'Russian experts' have asked me why I don't show my usual independence. Indeed, a standard leftwing commentator on the above-mentioned BBC has been publicly scratching his head, about how any foreign power could be losing a propaganda battle with the Bush administration." David Warren, The Ottawa Citizen, 16 August 2008.
     "Companies such as the state-run Gazprom, which owns strategic pipelines throughout the region, and Russian mobile telephone operators control infrastructure that has allowed Russia to quickly build up a new commercial hegemony. Ukraine and the Baltic states Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were the only former Soviet republics to side with Georgia this week, as Saakashvili's actions handed Putin an easy propaganda victory. Most Western governments and commentators rushed to accuse Russia of blatant aggression in sending its troops into Georgia's territory but Moscow has had little trouble presenting these charges as a case of biased hypocrisy." Peter Wilson, The Australian, 16 August 2008.
     "Russians were told over breakfast yesterday what really happened in Georgia: the conflict in South Ossetia was part of a plot by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, to stop Barack Obama being elected president of the United States. The line came on the main news of Vesti FM, a state radio station that — like the Government and much of Russia's media — has reverted to the old habits of Soviet years, in which a sinister American hand was held to lie behind every conflict, especially those embarrassing to Moscow. Modern Russia may be plugged into the internet and the global marketplace but in the battle for world opinion the Kremlin is replaying the old black-and-white movie." Charles Bremner, The Times, 15 August 2008.
     In online discussion, Georgian ambassador to the United States answers questions, including: "Why should Abkhazian and S. Ossetians be forced to live under Georgian rule, if they don't want to? The world has looked favorable on granting independence to other ethnic enclaves, why should these two be any different?" Washington Post, 15 August 2008.
     "As bad as the bloodying of Georgia is, the broader consequences are worse. The United States fiddled while Georgia burned, not even reaching the right rhetorical level in its public statements until three days after the Russian invasion began, and not, at least to date, matching its rhetoric with anything even approximating decisive action." John R. Bolton, The Telegraph, 15 August 2008.

Update on the Russian-Georgian cyber war.

Posted: 17 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The UAB (University of Alabama at Birmingham) Spam Data Mine is seeing new escalations in the so-called 'Russian-Georgian Cyber War'. More than 500 e-mails were received in a 90 minutes period this morning at UAB claiming to be a BBC story" about Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, which is actually a web page laden with viruses not detected by most product. UAB press release, 15 August 2008.
     "Hackers targeting Georgia in the midst of its conflict with Russia have started sending out a new batch of malicious spam messages, apparently with the aim of building a new botnet network of remote-controlled computers. The poorly worded messages started going out early Friday morning, and now make up close to 5% of the spam traffic measured by the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Spam Data Mine." Network World, 15 August 2008.
     "The Estonian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that it is sending two of its leading cyber-defense experts to Tbilisi to help stave off cyber-attacks emanating in Russia." The Baltic Times, 16 August 2008.
     VP of Arbor Networks, an Internet security company that tracks cyber attacks: "'They started out as some fairly small attacks and as the hostilities got bigger and bigger, we are now seeing some rather large attacks. While the attacks are probably being launched by Russia, we have no evidence to prove they are coming from the Russian government, themselves.' Those attacks helped take down government Web sites in Georgia, including that of the president, even replacing it with the image seen in this video clip." NECN.com, 16 August 2008.
     CFO of Atlanta-based internet hosting company Tulip Systems: "We brought the [Georgia presidential] site into our data center and our servers. We are broadcasting three TV stations out of here, and we also brought over another Web site, rustavi2, the largest TV network." Atlanta Journal Constitution, 17 August 2008.
     "The conflict between Russia and the former Soviet Republic of Georgia has underscored the relative anonymity of cyberattackers." FCW.com. 15 August 2008.
     "Dr David Betz, senior lecturer at the Department of War Studies of King's College, London, said: 'We're still in the wooden biplane era of cyber-war. It will get more sophisticated, probably quite quickly.'" The Independent, 17 August 2008.
     "Today, defence strategists recognise the full importance of computer networks. Where before carrier pigeons were shot out of the sky or jamming signals rendered radio communication impossible, telecom centres and Internet servers have become the prime targets. And in 2007, Estonia won the dubious honour of being the first obvious victim of a coordinated cyber attack by Russian hackers." Radio Netherlands, 15 August 2008.
     "Call it 'the fog of cyberwar'. Better yet, please don't. As the dust settles, it's unclear whether 'cyberwar' is even an appropriate term for what's taken place online as an actual war - the kind with guns and dead people - has transpired in Georgia. It's worth remembering that in this "cyberwar", the most serious consequence is that a website becomes temporarily inaccessible to viewers. It's a war being fought with paintballs, not with live rounds." Ethan Zuckerman, Reuters, 16 August 2008.
     "While Internet attacks continue in Georgia, security experts say the U.S. is not prepared for similar attacks that could steal confidential data and wreak havoc on U.S. computer systems." NewsFactor.com, 15 August 2008.
     "The Internet was not designed to be secure. Its architecture was developed by a relatively small group of researchers who knew and trusted one another. They didn't envision the Net becoming intertwined with commerce, manufacturing and the power grid, all of which are now to some degree vulnerable to cyber warriors. The ultimate solution is to redesign the Net, striking a better balance between security and the free flow of information. In the meantime, Georgia's experience serves as a warning to Internet users that war has been redefined to the detriment of civilians everywhere." Editorial, Los Angeles Times, 17 August 2008.
     "The truth about the war has been further obscured by hackers taking down all sites with the Georgian domain-suffix '.ge'. Much .ge content has migrated to Google’s blogspot.com servers, which are better-protected. But like all blogger content, the Georgian government’s official position has transmuted into mere opinion along with the private hosting. This is perhaps the first armed conflict that incorporated a serious component of cyber-war. Barring nuclear escalation, it will be remembered for that, rather than for the bloodshed. Every security establishment had better take note because this is likely to become a standard tactic in future conflicts." Devangshu Datta, Business Standard (New Delhi), 16 August 2008.

A South African reports from Georgia for Al Jazeera.

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Jonah "Hull, 35, was born in Zimbabwe but raised in Joburg. Educated at St John's College, and later at Wits University, he has an impressive background in international news and is no stranger to conflict zones. After a number of years with Associated Press Television News and later with Sky News, he crossed channels to the English language version of Al Jazeera in 2006 to pick up a posting to the Russian capital. Since then he has monitored Moscow stoking tension with Georgia, reporting regularly on the false threats that only became real last week." Saturday Star (Johannesburg), 16 August 2008.

No Russia Today on the Bulgarian seaside.

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Weekly anecdotes and musings from Bulgaria’s seaside, part 3 of 3. Martinelli furniture, designer architecture, manicured lawns and pool bar were the foreground; and somewhere out on the sea on which we gazed, the Russian Black Sea fleet had been mobilised against Georgia. ... There was cable television to keep us briefed, with the BBC inevitably offering the most sober coverage; the thousands of civilian dead claimed by south Ossetian rebels was put in quotation marks by the Beeb, yet reported as bald fact by CNN. Sky News, again was on the somewhat more histrionic side. Sky divided its time between the Georgia crisis and the Olympic saga, in which it seemed to believe there was only a British team competing. Unfortunately, unlike a hotel we stayed in last year, there was no English-service Russia Today channel, which would have served up the Kremlin view undiluted, unedited and uncritically." Clive Leviev-Sawyer, Sofia Echo, 16 Augut 2008.
     "Kevin Owen, a presenter on HTV's Wales Tonight in the mid-1990s, is now reading out the Kremlin's version of events on Russia Today, the Moscow-based, English-language television station. 'Kevin's got to earn a living and I wish him well,' says his former boss Elis Owen, the managing director of ITV Wales. 'He was very professional when he worked for us and got on well with everybody.' Although it is owned by a non-profit organisation, the contents of Russia Today's website indicate that it is closely linked to the Russian state. A section is devoted to stories supportive of President Dmitri Medvedev." Tim Walker, The Telegraph, 14 August 2008.
     "Moscow is using novel methods to spread a very unsubtle, Cold War version of the Caucasian conflict to the world. Chief among them is Russia Today, a state 24-hour news channel that is fronted much of the time by cheery British and other English-speaking television professionals. The smiles and studio banter could come from BBC World or CNN but the story is unrelentingly the Kremlin version. Banners flash along at the bottom of the screen saying such things as 'genocide' and 'aggression' or 'city turns into human hell, many people still trapped under rubble'. ... The coverage goes down well in developing countries that want an alternative to CNN and BBC World Service, a Russian official said. 'We have learnt from Western TV how to simplify the narrative.'" Charles Bremner, The Times, 15 August 2008.

Exile novelists used to listen to BBC on the shortwave.

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Canadian in Greece to write "his debut novel." "My rent for a villa -- literally a stone’s throw from the water on the beach, just outside the sort of town -- was something like 650-700 bucks a month. I had a little living room, my bedroom, a tiny little suite kitchen, a television -- I watched [a lot of] BBC World...I can still recite most of the commercials from memory. It was the only English channel." National Post, 16 August 2008.

Pop-up boxes for the BBC's non-UK audience?

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC website is experimenting with a new hyperlinking system that provides extra information in pop-up boxes – and can be used for advertising. ... [System developer] Apture also promotes the system as an advertising platform, raising the question of whether it will be used for this purpose on pages targeted at non-UK audiences. But a spokesperson said BBC World and BBC.com, who would be affected, were not aware of the experiment." Personal Computer World, 15 August 2008.

Egyptian newspaper reports Alhurra "close down"?

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States is due to close down its Arabic-speaking space channel Alhurra after the White House realized that this space channel did not fulfil the goal sought from the space channel. Consequently, the $350 million which the US administration spent on Alhurra since February 2004 did not produce any results. Director of the Washington office of Al-Arabiya space channel, Hisham Milhim, said that despite this high cost, the Alhurra failed to rank even the fourth space channel for the viewers of the Arab space channels. He added: seldom would you find people who watch Alhurra." Egyptian opposition Labour Party newspaper Al-Sha'b website, in Arabic, via BBC Monitoring, 6 August 2008. I don't think this newspaper has any inside knowledge, but instead is leaping to a conclusion about a planned closure of Alhurra. The story basically reviews the negative press coverage about Alhurra a couple of months ago. See previous posts on 23 June 2008 and 17 April 2008.

"Why Al Jazeera Owes an Apology."

Posted: 16 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Samir Kuntar is the killer who smashed the head of a 4-year-old girl with his rifle in 1979 after killing her father before her eyes. He was convicted, sentenced to 542 years in prison, and never expressed any remorse. He was released by Israel on July 26 in exchange for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers... Then came Kuntar's birthday party, initiated by Al Jazeera's bureau in Beirut and aired on Al Jazeera TV July 19 (translation by the Middle East Media Research Institute). There was orchestral music, a huge birthday cake and infinite admiration by the Al Jazeera bureau chief announcing: 'Brother Samir, we would like to celebrate your birthday with you. You deserve even more than this . . . Happy birthday, brother Samir.' How amateurish was the Coliseum in Rome compared with modern-day satellite rituals of death and brutality. Imagine millions of living rooms watching their new role model, child-killer Kuntar, lowering a huge butcher knife onto his birthday cake to the sound of fireworks and male chorus: 'This is the sword of the Arabs, Samir.'" Judea Perl, Wall Street Journal, 16 August 2008.
     "Kuntar was convicted and sentenced to five life terms for killing a police officer, a civilian and a four-year-old child in a raid in the northern Israeli town of Nahariya. But on Thursday he told the crowds that came out to welcome to his home town: 'I haven't for even one day regretted what I did. On the contrary I remain committed to my political convictions'" Kuntar said. 'I feel enormous joy because I have returned to the ranks of the resistance and to my family.' Kuntar's family says that he did not commit any of the murders and that the victims were killed in crossfire during a shootout with Israeli security forces trying to apprehend Kuntar and other members of his group." Al Jazeera English, 18 July 2008.

From our VOA file.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA), broadcasting in languages including Persian, Mandarin, Pashto and Urdu, will provide its international audience of an estimated 134 million with news, analysis and interviews from the Democratic and Republican Presidential Nominating Conventions. VOA (www.VOANews.com), the largest U.S. international broadcaster, is fielding a team of nearly 90 reporters, technicians, producers, directors, and coordinators to create a radio, television, and Internet broadcast center at both conventions. Broadcasters from 26 of VOA's 45 language services are providing virtually round-the-clock coverage." VOA press release, 12 August 2008.
     "It was standing room only at recent Farmfest political forums in Morgan, Minn., where agricultural leaders grilled congressional hopefuls and Democratic challenger Al Franken debated incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Norm Coleman. ... 'Farmfest’s political forum was off the charts. CNN, AP, and even the Voice of America came, for goodness gracious.'" The Daily Republic (Mitchell SD), 15 August 2008.
     "Visits to the Voice of America's (VOA) website www.VOANews.com increased 38 percent in the first part of August, reflecting intense interest in international news stories including the Beijing Olympics and Russia's invasion of Georgia." VOA press release, 7 August 2008.
     Among "hidden treasures" in D.C. federal buildings: "The Wilbur J. Cohen Building, which houses Voice of America, has bas-relief sculptures over each four building entrances. The bas-reliefs, along with most of the murals inside, reflect the theme of social security, because the building was originally built to house the Social Security Board, which never moved in. The Cohen building's auditorium has a mural on sliding panels that is usually hidden from the people who do make it into the building - in the auditorium, at the back of the stage, is a 12-by-16 foot mural by Philip Guston of a family eating a picnic and people working. The giant work of art is usually out of view when the auditorium is being used." Kansas City infoZine, 15 August 2008.

U.S. international broadcasts to Cambodia generate comment in Cambodia.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"On July 28, the Voice of America broadcast a four-party call to Cambodians and the world 'not to recognize the results of the July 27, 2008, elections.'" A. Gaffar Peang-Met, Guampdn.com, 13 August 2008. How VOA actually reported the election. VOA News, 27 July 2008.
     "On the question of the pre-election media environment, the [Cambodian National Election Commission] questioned the [EU Election Observation Mission's] view that there was 'unfair and unequal' access to media in favour of the ruling party. 'The opposition parties were able to freely convey their ideology and criticism of the government to listeners through Voice of America radio and Radio Free Asia," the statement said." The Phnom Penh Post, 15 August 2008.
     "A man who answered the phone of Prime Minister Hun Sen's nephew Hun Chea and identified himself as Hun Chea's younger brother admitted Tuesday to his family's involvement in a hit-and-run killing and blamed the victim for being inebriated. ... 'It's not right what Radio Free Asia broadcasted, saying that it was unintentional murder. It was not. It was a normal traffic accident in which the motorbike driver was very drunk,' he said." The Phnom Penh Post, 13 August 2008.

China: websites unblocked for journalists, not for the people.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"As useful as the recent uproar over censorship in Beijing was for calling attention to the broader issue, the failure of outsiders to understand how censorship affects the Chinese Internet in practice is a source of frustration inside the country. Earlier this week, I heard from a blogger, Du Dongjin after he received an email from the Voice of America celebrating the unblocking of their Chinese website. 'In my point of view,' he complained, 'it is quite a plain comment that VOA does not care if there is Internet censorship in China. It only cares its own interests.' By this he meant that, whatever the incremental benefits, unblocking VOA's site -- or any other one or several foreign sites -- won't change the more problematic aspects of Beijing's web control." Rebecca MacKinnon, Wall Street Journal, 14 August 2008. There are varying reports about how far beyond the Beijing Olympics International Broadcasting Centre that the unblocking of certain websites extends.

CRI's reporter in exile in the USA.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Jimmy Cheng Qinghua, an editor for state-run China Radio International (CRI) in Beijing, who now lives in exile in the United States, gave CPJ the directives he saved while he worked on CRI's desk. They covered everything from sensitive political issues to banal tabloid scandals. Having released the information, Cheng knew he wouldn't be able to return to China without facing serious jail time." Bob Dietz, Committee to Protect Journalists blog, 13 August 2008.

Comparing Georgia 2008 with Hungary 1956.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"In Budapest, Hungary in 1956, Radio Free Europe, the American foreign propaganda network, egged on the Hungarians, urging them to fight the Soviet army and advising various methods of resistance. We suggested, or at least implied, that the West would come to their rescue if they needed help. The Russians crushed the Hungarians, and we did nothing. Now it's Georgia's turn, and one again it's, 'You guys fight. We'll hold your coat.'" Reese Schonfeld, Huffington Post, 14 August 2008.
     "Saakashvili could have read vivid accounts of broadcasts, via the CIA-controlled Radio Free Europe, encouraging the Hungarians in 1956 to believe that if they rose against the Soviet occupier Nato troops would race to their aid." Alexander Cockburn, The First Post, 15 August 2008.
     John McCain's words to Georgia are "an example of the United States' unfortunate habit of giving much less powerful actors reason to believe that it will directly support them in times of trouble when it has no intention of doing so. It happened in the Hungarian uprising in 1956, when American-backed Radio Free Europe insinuated repeatedly that help fighting the Soviet Union was on the way." Editorial, The Globe and Mail, 14 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Remembering Radio Prague English broadcaster Olga Szántová (1932-2003).

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"She was also among the radio journalists who managed to carry on broadcasting secretly during the Soviet invasion of 1968, as several recordings from the time still bear witness. ... After the invasion, Olga’s job at the radio was increasingly under threat and she was forced to leave at the end of 1970. ... After she was thrown out of the radio Olga was not allowed anywhere near a microphone for nearly 20 years. ... It was with great enthusiasm that Olga returned to Radio Prague after the fall of communism, and she made a huge contribution to our programme, showing more energy than many people half her age." Radio Prague, 14 August 2008. I remember listening to her and her colleagues, on my shortwave radio, in 1968. Radio Prague remained defiant for a few days after the invasion, stating that the Soviet troops were not invited. Eventually, however, it became faithful to the Moscow line.

Public diplomacy budget cuts are nothing new.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"As deputy director of the Office of East Asian and Pacific Affairs for the United States Information Agency, the public diplomacy agency abolished in 1999, I helped manage three successive years of cuts to the budgets for programs in 17 nations, including Australia, China, Japan and South Korea. Before that, for years I had to decide what programs and personnel to cut at overseas missions where I served. These cuts were always 10 percent of the budget or more and were imposed by the Office of Management and Budget or Congress." Nicholas Mele, letter to New York Times, 13 August 2008.

Voice of Nigeria plans three new languages.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Director-General of the Voice of Nigeria tells the Association for International Broadcasting: "We are planning three new languages, Chinese and either Hindi or Urdu, and Portuguese as we want to reach out to Lusophone Africa. The Chinese are already doing very well in their Hausa service of China Radio International. ... We are currently looking at the funding for Mandarin - our signal gets into China very well and we get a lot of letters from English listeners in China." AIB The Channel via Radio Netherlands Media Network, 13 August 2008.

Al Jazeera provokes "angry crowd" in Mauritania.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera's correspondent in Mauritania, Zeinab Bint Arbieh, barely managed to escape an angry crowd in the streets of the capital Nouakchott this week. Arbieh reported that the crowd of mostly young men and women, who were protesting against last week's military coup, were convinced that her coverage of the August 6 coup for Al Jazeera had been biased." But Mauritanian newspaper editor says: "Compared to other channels like Al Arabiya, BBC, Al Hurra and Al Alam, Al Jazeera's performance remains the better. It was more professional and more unbiased." Menassat, 14 August 2008.

Telesur accused of another FARC entanglement.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Telesur is again mired in controversy over its alleged links to Colombia's leftist FARC guerrillas. The Caracas-based TV channel, most of whose funding comes from the government of Hugo Chávez, was accused in May of faking the origin of a FARC video. Now a Colombian journalist who works for the channel is accused of being a FARC collaborator." Miami Herald, 15 August 2008.

Heritage potshots at U.S. international broadcasting are unwittingly instructive.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The end of on-the-air broadcasts of Voice of America couldn’t come at worse time: Russia is providing an utterly skewed and one-sided picture of the war in Georgia domestically, while the Internet has only 15% to 18% penetration, limited primarily to medium and large cities. ... Today, when we should be engaged in war of ideas against radical Islamists, the situation is quite different. U.S. international broadcasting lacks talent, budget and credibility — be it Arabic, Farsi or Russian. Stations have a hard time competing with Al Jazeera, BBC or Russian state-run TV." Ariel Cohen, Heritage Foundation American Leadership blog, 14 August 2008.
     Dr. Cohen doesn't know it, but he has put his finger on the problem: "Stations have a hard time competing with Al Jazeera, BBC or Russian state-run TV." Note "stations" is plural, while BBC and Al Jazeera are singular, with all their resources combined in one organization. U.S. international broadcasting is a boondoggle of overlapping, competing efforts: VOA, RFE/RL, RFA, MBN, OCB. This structure creates a plethora of senior level plum jobs, but serves no other useful purpose. Until the United States consolidates this mélange and gets serious about international broadcasting, there will be no competing with BBC or Al Jazeera. And don't tell me that that one station is to provide U.S. news and policies, and then other is to provide news about the audience's own country. Why should the audience be burdened with the ludicrous task of tuning to two U.S. stations to get all the news?
     "Earlier this year, the Voice of America, one of America’s leading arms of public diplomacy in the world, made the decision to cut service in Georgia as of September. It had also made an earlier decision to decrease service into Russia to just a bit of tv and internet. This means basically that when US officials have weighed in on the latest developments, there is no US agency able to carry that message to the Georgian or Russian people." Moira Whelan, Democracy Arsenal, 14 August 2008. To the contrary, RFE/RL will continue to interview U.S. officials on matters affecting its target countries (see previous post), and will report on any U.S. policy pronouncements relevant to the region. And the Russian language U.S. public diplomacy website www.america.gov/ru continues on.

With every war comes a propaganda war.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Most of the Western media is based in Georgia. The Russians were slow to give access from their side and this has helped them lose the propaganda war." BBC News, 15 August 2008.
     "Georgia has dominated the psychological playing field from the beginning. As Mark Ames discovered, Georgian leaders were making collect calls to just about every influential person on Wall Street, convincing them that Georgia was the victim of Russian aggression even as Georgian rockets were leveling Tskhinvali. Yasha Levine, Media Channel, 14 August 2008.
     "Russia’s propaganda has been clumsy, while Georgia’s has been effective. But both kinds pose serious problems." Boris Dolgin, openDemocracy, 14 August 2008.
     "Moscow is using novel methods to spread a very unsubtle, Cold War version of the Caucasian conflict to the world. Chief among them is Russia Today, a state 24-hour news channel that is fronted much of the time by cheery British and other English-speaking television professionals. The smiles and studio banter could come from BBC World or CNN but the story is unrelentingly the Kremlin version." The Times, 15 August 2008.
     Russian deputy prime minsiter Sergei Ivanov: "I wouldn’t trust such eyewitnesses too much, as many of them resemble too much Goebbels’ propaganda, trying to present white as black and vice versa, trying to present a victim of an aggression as the initiator of the aggression, and vice versa. Our ground forces never crossed the border of the conflict zone – instead they launched strikes in response to the Georgian forces attacks, such as artillery, which were still targeting Tskhinvali. There was speculation, panicky rumours and disinformation – that Russian tanks had allegedly entered Gori; stories of Russian planes bombing Tbilisi. They were all Goebbels style lies invented by the Georgian leadership." EuroNews, 14 August 2008.
     "The Kremlin, facing little opposition in the domestic media, has nearly complete liberty to mold any desired public opinion. The main basis for the legitimacy of the Russian invasion of South Ossetia was the accusation that the Georgian shelled the region’s capital, Tskhinvali, killing close to 2,000 civilians. ... In return Georgia accused Russia of military aggression, and claimed its own military campaign was aimed at 'reestablishing the constitutional order' over the breakaway region." Dumitru Minzarari, Transitions Online, 15 October 2008.
     "Insofar as America is seen as weak, our enemies will redouble their actions and our friends will hold back, fearing that association with us will not protect them, and single them out for attack. Those consequences are immediate, traveling across the airwaves of the BBC and al Jazeera and the other propaganda outlets favored by our enemies." Michael Ledeen, National Review Online, 15 August 2008.

With every modern war comes a cyber war.

Posted: 15 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"For Russian netizens, 'unconventional' cyberwarfare—winning the hearts and minds of the West—became more important than crashing another server in Tbilisi. Managing information seemed all the more urgent as there were virtually no images from the first and the most controversial element in the whole war—the Georgian invasion of Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia—and the destruction that, were one to believe the Kremlin’s account, followed shortly thereafter." Evgeny Morozov, Foreign Policy, August 2008.
     "As Georgian troops retreated to defend their capital from Russian attack, the websites of their government, also under fire, retreated to Google. In an Internet first, Georgia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reopened its site on Google's free Blogger network and gave reporters a Gmail address to reach the National Security Council." Christian Science Monitor, 13 August 2008.
     "The attacks have already managed to compromise several government web sites, with continuing DDoS attacks against numerous other Georgian government sites, prompting the government to switch to hosting locations to the U.S, with Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs undertaking a desperate step in order to disseminate real-time information by moving to a Blogspot account." ZDNet, 11 August 2008.
     "Rather than blame the notorious Russian Business Network (RBN) -- as researcher Jart Armin did over the weekend -- other researchers said Tuesday that it appears the attacks originated from a 'hacker militia' of Russian botnet herders and volunteers." ITWorld, 12 August 2008.
     "I had a [simple] research objective: to test how much damage someone like me, who is quite aloof from the Kremlin physically and politically, could inflict upon Georgia's Web infrastructure, acting entirely on my own and using only a laptop and an Internet connection. If I succeeded, that would somewhat contradict the widely shared assumption—at least in most of the Western media—that the Kremlin is managing this cyberwarfare in a centralized fashion." Evgeny Morozov, Slate, 14 August 2008.
     "Is it possible that the Russian government encouraged (or even hired) hackers to trash Georgia web sites? You bet it is. Do we have the foggiest idea how many of the attacks were from government-connected types, and how many were from outsiders like Morozov? Unfortunately, we don't." Noah Schachtman, Wired Danger Room, 14 August 2008.
     Jose Nazario: "In mid-July, as there were some increased tensions between Russia and Georgia over these regions under dispute, we began seeing an attack commanded to a large botnet that was directed to flood the Georgian president's Web site with requests to load the page repeatedly as fast as possible." PBS NewsHour, 13 August 2008.
     "'Compared to the May 2007 Estonian attacks, these are more intense but have lasted (so far) for less time. This could be due to a number of factors, including more sizeable botnets with more bandwidth, better bandwidth at the victims, changes in our observations, or other factors.' ... On average attackers are throwing 211 Mbps at targeted systems in assaults that last for an average of just over two hours at a time." The Register, 14 August 2008.
     "In an intriguing cyber alliance, two Estonian computer experts are scheduled to arrive in Georgia by evening to keep the country's networks running amid an intense military confrontation with Russia. And Poland has lent space on its president's web page for Georgia to post updates on its ongoing conflict with Russia." Computerworld, 13 Augut 2008.
     "'A cyber warfare campaign by Russia is seriously disrupting many Georgian websites,' the Georgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. The Kremlin denied the accusations. 'On the contrary, a number of internet sites belonging to the Russian media and official organisations have fallen victim to concerted hacker attacks,' a spokesman said. ... It was the first time a known cyber attack had coincided with a shooting war; experts warned it was unlikely to be the last." The Australian, 15 August 2008.
     "Attacks have continued even after the president's website was transferred to another hosting company in the United States. The new host, Atlanta-based firm Tulip Systems, founded by Georgian-born Nino Doijashvili, has reported spurious traffic to the server outnumbering genuine traffic by as much as 5,000 to 1. The site was still unavailable at the time of writing so the ongoing cyber attack seems to be succeeding. Georgian media, telecommunications and transportation servers were also attacked." Martin J Young, Asia Times, 16 August 2008.
     "The online battle, which appears to have begun before the first shots were fired a week ago, is a preview of a new era in warfare — one the U.S. is not ready for, government officials and security experts say." Cox News Service, 15 August 2008.
     "National Intelligence Director Michael McConnell told a Senate committee that the United States is ill prepared for cyberattacks that could steal data or cause disruptions. He mentioned China and Russia as potential threats. McConnell said the military is best protected, but the federal government and private companies are vulnerable." Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 15 August 2008.
     "The cyberattacks in Georgia are re-energizing a debate over whether the laws of war apply in cyberspace. Among the biggest questions: When is a cyberattack an act of war?" Wall Street Journal, 14 August 2008.
     "The U.S. Air Force is considering mothballing plans for its Cyber Command program. It may seem an odd time to halt development for a cyber defense program given the attention cast on cyber warfare this week in Georgia; however, new Air Force leadership may have looked at the host of government organizations designed to do essentially the same task and questioned whether the unit is necessary." TechNewsWorld, 14 August 2008.

Reporting, and spinning, the conflict in Georgia.

Posted: 14 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"This has been a remarkably choreographed war. From the moment those first shots were fired the PR game began.
The shots came as most of the world's attention was on Beijing for the opening ceremony of the Olympics. A convenient distraction? Perhaps. But also a perfect opportunity for Prime Minister Putin to be seen in discussion with President Bush and both men used the pictures to their advantage." Sky News, 13 August 2008.
     "Russian deputy foreign minister Grigory Karasin has accused Western media orgs of bias in their coverage of the Georgia fighting, but U.S. and U.K. TV execs are unfazed, saying that claims of bias are 'bananas.'" Variety, 12 August 2008.
     "The Brussels PR agency promoting Russia's side in the dispute with Georgia has been criticised for being part of Russia's 'propaganda' machine. GPlus has been advising the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation since April 2006. Meanwhile, rival agency Aspect Consulting was hired by Georgia late last year to reach out to Western audiences." PRWeek, 14 August 2008.
     "John McCain's chief foreign policy adviser and his business partner lobbied the senator or his staff on 49 occasions in a 3 1/2-year span while being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the government of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The payments raise ethical questions about the intersection of Randy Scheunemann's personal financial interests and his advice to the Republican presidential candidate who is seizing on Russian aggression in Georgia as a campaign issue." AP, 13 August 2008. See previous post about same subject. And TPM Muckraker, 14 August 2008.
     "The BBC World Service was already covering the build-up to the conflict at midnight last Thursday, ahead of most other news organisations who were focusing on the build-up to the Olympics. The BBC was lucky to have a permanent BBC correspondent based in Tbilisi – Matthew Colin. He was joined by the BBC’s Moscow correspondent Richard Galpin on the Friday, and by 6pm BBC News was broadcasting live from Tbilisi." Press Gazette, 14 August 2008.
     "Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty has two valuable video clips worth noting: the first is the South Ossetia/Georgia chronology of fighting, the second the rally of Eastern European leaders in Tbilisi three days ago." Russia Blog, 14 August 2008.

Al Jazeera gets its first Emmy nomination.

Posted: 14 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera's English-language coverage of the Myanmar crackdown and a current affairs program have earned the network its first International Emmy news nominations. Besides Al Jazeera English, the Qatar-based satellite news channel, nominated networks include the Canadian Broadcasting Corp., TV Globo in Brazil, Pro TV News in Romania, ITV News in the United Kingdom and SBS Broadcasting in the Netherlands." Reuters, 14 August 2008.

China: how will official DTH affect the satellite gray market?

Posted: 14 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"With the Chinasat-9 satellite in orbit, officially sanctioned satellite-TV services are set to become a reality in the world’s biggest market. ... For the Chinese population, the launch of Chinasat-9 in June is a highly significant event for the country. The satellite, manufactured by Thales Alenia Space, will provide coverage of the Olympics and also help initiate free direct-to-home (DTH) services in different regions of the country as part of a project dubbed Cuncuntong." Mark Holmes, Via Satellite, 1 August 2008. This is a domestic broadcasting story, but with implications for international broadcasting. Chinese households with gray market satellite receivers capable of receiving foreign television channels may migrate to the offerings of this new authorized DTH service. Or, with the new authorized DTH service in place, Chinese authorities may reinforce the prohibition against ownership of receivers capable of receiving other satellites. See Lyngsat's Chinasat 9 listing.

Successor to Radio Tirana on shortwave?

Posted: 13 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Home2US has added three premium channels produced by Albania’s Top Channel to the Home2US direct-to-home lineup, the company announced Aug. 13. ... 'The addition of Top Channel and its highly respected team of journalists and overall programming production quality to the Home2US lineup represent a premium expansion and a true win for Albanians living and working throughout America.'" Satellite Today, 13 August 2008. See also website of Home2US, "Gateway for International Broadcasters into the Americas."

U.S. public diplomacy calling young tribal audiences (updated again).

Posted: 13 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"James K. Glassman, the new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, has launched a more aggressive program to counter Islamist extremism through a war of ideas. ... Mr. Glassman said he was reluctant to provide details of these efforts because it could cause problems for host governments. However, one program initiated this month with U.S. backing - Young Tribal Voices - involves the production of Pashtun radio dramas by students in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The broadcasts include anti-extremist themes and are beamed into the tribal regions, currently major al Qaeda and Taliban redoubts." Washington Times, 31 July 2008. Using whose transmitters? Incorporated in the programming of VOA or Radio Free Afghanistan? Update: Hal Ryder, Director, Educational Arts Resource Services, Inc., tells me that this program "was broadcast from the University of Peshawar using their transmitters." See also www.earsinc.com/blog.
     "In the July 31, 2008 Washington Times, Bill Gertz provides an interview with James K. Glassman, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, who is working on programs to 'push back against violent extremist ideology.' ... Then Mr. Glassman goes on to praise Sayyed Imam al-Sharif (aka 'Dr. Fadl') as a credible voice against extremists (whatever that means). Mr. Glassman fails to mention that al-Sharif calls for 'Jihad in Afghanistan [that] will lead to the creation of an Islamic state with the triumph of the Taliban, God willing.' This is the same Taliban that the American media are so outraged that Pakistan's ISI is reported to have been supporting. But Mr. Glassman is paid by American taxpayers as an American government employee to further promote individuals like al-Sharif to fight so-called 'extremists,' and the Washington Times prints his comments without rebuttal or challenge." Jeffrey Imm, Counterrorsim Blog, 1 August 2008.
     Glassman is scheduled to be a guest on CNN's Late Edition, Sunday, 3 August. AP, 2 August 2008. He was bumped from Late Edition a couple of weeks ago.

Death of Paul Norton, former VOA jazz host.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Paul Louis Norton, 79, a venerable WPVI-TV [Philadelphia] broadcaster for nearly 40 years, died Thursday of a stroke at Christiana Hospital. ... In 1956, Mr. Norton married Nancy Bieger, and the couple had five children. They moved to Washington, where Mr. Norton earned a bachelor's degree in English from Georgetown University. While going to college, he worked full time as a local disc jockey and television weatherman, a CBS network announcer, a newscaster for the Voice of America's worldwide English-language division, and a weekend host for its jazz program, Music, USA." Philadelphia Inquirer, 11 August 2008. Somewhere I have a recording, sent by a listener to my VOA Communications World program, of Paul Norton closing one of these weekend jazz programs. The weekday jazz host was, of course, Willis Conover. VOA actually did include the comma in the name of program "Music, USA."

Competing ideas about the "war of ideas."

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"US officials and policy analysts are talking less about 'winning the hearts and minds' of Arabs and Muslims worldwide as part of public diplomacy efforts, and instead are focusing on winning 'the war of ideas' against Islamic extremist groups. ... Such a complex concept as the war of ideas will continue to be debated throughout the remaining months left for the current US administration and into the next. How effectively it is executed will depend on the next president's clarity of vision and willingness to engage in the debate. To do so, as Amr and Singer wrote, the next administration 'should include seeking and integrating input from legislative bodies, universities, think-tanks, and friends in the Muslim world.'" Steven W. Barnes, The Daily Star (Beirut), 11 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Support domestic dissemination? Depends on who is in the White House.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"For the left, it means that the Bush Administration could have had at its disposal a state-controlled media organ with which to manipulate the public to support the war. It would also mean that Barack Obama, were he to become the next president, would be able to use that same power and money to convince the public that our military should pull out of Iraq." Sharon Weinberger, Wired Danger Room, 11 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

"Why TV news in the US is utter rubbish."

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"One of the most sought-after war criminals in the world had been arrested and sent for trial; several new scientific breakthroughs had been announced; Zimbabwe edged carefully toward shared government; the Indian government dealt with votes of no-confidence and terrorist attacks; and countless other real stories came and went. For millions of Americans, these events appeared as 15-word tickertapes at the bottom of their 36-inch widescreen TVs." Kieren McCarthy, The Guardian's Comment is Free, 7 August 2008.
     "Sure, there are some important campaign stories, but too many recall playground name-calling. One way to avoid campaign news fatigue is to turn to BBC World Service and London and other foreign, English-language dailies." Ben L. Kaufman, City Beat (Cincinnati), 10 August 2008.

RFA protests to IOC about withheld visa.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"A radio station banned by the Chinese authorities has filed a formal complaint with the International Olympic Committee after the Beijing organising committee (Bocog) failed to issue one of its correspondents with media accreditation. Dhondup Gonsar, who is of Tibetan descent and broadcasts in the Tibetan language on Radio Free Asia (RFA), is yet to receive his accreditation documents despite his application being approved by the IOC." The Guardian, 12 August 2008. "At yesterday's press conference, Jill Ku Martin, of Radio Free Asia, a non-profit broadcast service sponsored by the US Congress, demanded to know why her Tibetan colleague Dhondup Dansar had approval from the IOC to cover the Games but was barred from China by its Foreign Ministry." The Age (Melbourne), 13 August 2008.
     "Critics argue that China's censorship practices go against the Olympic spirit, which promotes peace and international co-operation." The Age (Melbourne), 11 August 2008.
     RFA reports on "phony worshipers" when President Bush attended Kuanjie Church in Beijing. Epoch Times, 11 August 2008.

More Radio Australia, BBC in the Northern Marianas.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"With station manager Carl Pogue leaving island this week, KRNM [public radio on Saipan] will be left with questions about the station's future. ... The station will not play any original content once Pogue leaves. The station will play NPR and BBC through an online stream, and use a satellite to play Radio Australia through the end of September or beginning of October, he said." Saipan Tribune, 13 August 2008.

"Remarkable growth" for Al Jazeera via mobile.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Network has reported a period of remarkable growth for its mobile services in the first half of 2008. Fourteen new agreements with mobile operators make Al Jazeera Mobile's innovative Arabic and English language SMS, MMS and live streaming content accessible in several new markets worldwide. ... Over 40 mobile platforms worldwide now carry Al Jazeera Mobile." The Peninsula, 11 August 2008.

International media and the Georgian conflict.

Posted: 12 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Only days before the Russian military forces attacked Georgia, the Voice of America – a U.S. government-funded international broadcasting station created in 1942 to provide uncensored news, explain U.S. foreign policy and tell America’s story abroad – ceased its on-air Russian-language radio broadcasts without any public announcement. The decision to stop Russian-language VOA radio broadcasts was made not by the Voice of America broadcasters and management, who strongly objected to the idea, but by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), which controls VOA and its budget." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 11 August 2008.
     "Russia's around the clock television news channel, Vesti 24, informed its viewers that Fidel Castro blames the conflict in Georgia on U.S. President George Bush. The station says the former Cuban leader told Mexican television that Georgian leaders would never have launched an attack on South Ossetia without prior agreement with Mr. Bush. ... This detail stands in stark contrast to a virtual blackout of information on Russian TV about attacks by Russian forces on targets in Georgia, including bombs dropped in the vicinity of the capital city, Tbilisi. Instead, Russian viewers have been shown horrific scenes of destruction in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali, as well as interviews with distraught refugees." VOA News, 12 August 2008.
     "Für die Menschen in Georgien wird es indes immer schwieriger, Informationen von verschiedenen Seiten zu erhalten. Nicht nur die Webseiten mit dem Domain-Namen .ru sind offenbar gesperrt. Am Samstag erklärte Parlamentspräsident David Bakradse, in Georgien seien die russischen Fernsehsender abgeschaltet worden, da sie nur Falschinformationen über die Lage in Südossetien verbreiteten." tagesschau.de, 12 August 2008.
     "'Russia is punishing Georgia for its Western aspirations,' David Kakabadze, head of Radio Free Europe’s Georgian service, told the broadcaster." CNSNews, 11 August 2008. See the interview with Mr. Kakabadze at RFE/RL, 10 August 2008. And RFE/RL Georgia page.
     "Russian television is flush with footage of misery left by the Georgian assault in the separatist district of South Ossetia, but few, if any, reports mention Russia's bombing of Georgia. William Dunbar, a correspondent in Georgia for English-language state channel Russia Today, mentioned the bombing in a report Saturday, and he has not gone on air for the station since. 'I had a series of live, video satellite links scheduled for later that day, and they were canceled by Russia Today,' he said by telephone from Tbilisi on Sunday. 'The real news, the real facts of the matter, didn't conform to what they were trying to report, and therefore, they wouldn't let me report it. I felt that I had no choice but to resign,' he added." Moscow Times, 11 August 2008.
     "The front page of the website of Russian backed news agency, OSinform - osinform.ru - which is run by the breakaway region’s state radio and television station IR - retained the agency's header and logo, but otherwize the entire page was featuring Alania TV's website content, including its news and images. Alania TV is supported by the Georgian government, and targets audiences in the breakaway region. Another website of the breakaway region’s radio and television station - osradio.ru – was also hacked." The Financial, 11 August 2008.
     "The television antenna at my dacha, where I spent the weekend, has been picking up Euronews much better lately, and there I heard the following "objective" information: Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev accuse Georgia of carrying out genocide in South Ossetia, while Saakashvili blames Russian aggression. Heart-rending images of the violence filled the screen, with 'no comment' as the only explanation." Alexei Pankin, Moscow Times, 12 August 2008.
     "As a youth, Gizo Ujarmeli of then-Soviet Georgia was drafted into the dreaded Interior Ministry. Posted as a border guard on the frozen steppe, he listened to Voice of America, taught himself English and dreamed of a day when he could live in freedom." Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11 August 2008.
     "Tearing down a narrow dirt side road in his aging Soviet-made Zhiguli, Ruslan Didoyev recalled with glee the illicit transmissions of Radio Free Europe that he listened to in his youth." Moscow Times, 12 August 2008.
     "Sen. John McCain ... repeatedly mispronounced the Georgian leader's name, referring to him as SHOSH-ka-vee-lee, instead of the correct, SAH-AH-kahsh-VEE-lee, according to Voice of America's handy pronunciation guide." Washington Independent, 11 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

NTDTV keeps up the pressure on Eutelsat access.

Posted: 10 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"On Capitol Hill, in the House of Representatives Cannon Building, New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV) held a press conference on August 7 about their broadcasts’ suspension by Eutelsat." Epoch Times, 9 August 2008.
     "The BBG is also canceling its agreement to broadcast freely via Eutelsat into China. This agreement was essential protection for the unique 'open satellite window' and assured 24/7 free broadcasting into China since 2005." Laurie Gorham, letter to Billings Gazette, 7 August 2008.
     "NTDTV is affiliated with the Falun Gong spiritual movement, which is banned in China. So this may not be your average news channel. But here’s the important point: NTDTV was not blocked from China’s air space by direct order of the Chinese government. It was removed by the French satellite that had been carrying it. And Eutelsat’s embarrassed European owners first said the satellite had technical problems. That was not true. Details of the maneuvers are complex, involving even the repositioning of a Voice of America transponder." Editorial, Keene Sentinel, 8 August 2008.
     So, under the terms to the "open source window," about which I do not yet have full details, BBG's access to Eutelsat W5 provided protection to NTDTV's access to W5.
     Recall that Eutelsat maintains that the elimination of NDTV from W5 was caused by the "loss of the use of one of the spacecraft’s two solar arrays." (See previous post.) Eutelsat's detractors say this is not true. Would it be good for Eutelsat's business to be caught in a whopping, brazen lie? If China is the main customer, perhaps.
     So far, I have no reason to doubt Eutelsat's official explanation. Satellite anomalies such as these happen all the time. However, if after the Olympics, that second solar array suddenly works again, and the 20 transponders are restored, red flags may be raised, so to speak.

     "The decision by the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), the independent agency that oversees VOA and other U.S. public-diplomacy outlets, to stop using the Eutelsat W5 satellite for its services into China on July 31 made it much easier for the satellite's French owners to blackball NTDTV's broadcasts on the same satellite, NTDTV spokeswoman Carrie Hung said. ... BBG spokeswoman Letitia King also rejected the NTDTV's charges, saying the agency's July 31 switch to a different satellite was based on budgetary and transmission issues, not politics. She noted that the BBG had no contractual relationship with NTDTV, even though both were using the Eutelsat satellite." Washington Times, 11 August 2008.

Lesson of the Georgia conlict: prepare alternatives (like, maybe, shortwave).

Posted: 10 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Cyber attacks against Georgia would be militarily appropriate considering that they are reportedly sending 150 tanks and associated troops( I mean peace keepers) across the border. And, for that matter, Georgia has probably studied Russia’s cyber techniques and prepared its own strategic cyber attack capability. What does that mean for the rest of the world? It means we should prepare for spill over effects. There may be DDoS attacks against web sites or news outlets that are covering the current conflict. Either side might start messing with the Internet routing tables the way Pakistan did last January when YouTube was taken off the Internet by an engineer at a Pakistani ISP. CNN, FoxNews, and the like could find their voices silenced. Think about your reliance on critical web based resources. Prepare alternatives. That would be wise at anytime but during major world events it makes even more sense." Richard Stiennon, Network World, 9 August 2008. The preceding item mentioned by Jukka Kinkamo, who adds: "Is it really wise to shut down or reduce the bandwidth of the official websites which provide the should I say 'official propaganda' or government point of view to the world media. Is it wiser to establish mirror websites around the world (I think VOA has several mirrored websites on different subnets) and feed them via satellite in case of total knock out. Or is it still better to have 'couple' of 250kW ionosphere heaters [shortwave transmitters] ready, just in case. I'll bet the VOA mirrored system would have been down in case of US-USSR nuclear war. But HF [shortwave] would have worked with smaller units, of course when the ionosphere has stabilized after those high altitude detonations. It is *extremely* interesting to monitor this current situation." And the one upside of the current situation is that it very unlikely to result in anything nuclear.

Georgia on our minds.

Posted: 10 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA) is doubling its Georgian language broadcasts in the wake of fighting between Georgia and Russia in the breakaway province of South Ossetia. VOA's Geo[r]gian Service will produce a 60-minute program daily, up from 30 minutes, with news, information, interviews, analysis and reaction to the crisis in the former Soviet Republic. News is also available on the Internet at www.VOANews.com/georgian/. 'We want to make sure Georgians are fully informed about what's happening in their country,' said Steve Redisch, VOA's Executive Editor." VOA press release, 8 August 2008. -- See Kim's commentary.
     "After pressuring the pathetic Olmert government into suspending arms sales to Georgia in the faint suggestion that Russia might stop selling nuclear technology to Iran (which it will not) and intimidating the Voice of America into broadcasting a pro-Russian position-- Russia has begun the invasion of Georgia." Daniel Greenfield, Canadian Free Press, 8 August 2008.
     "Russian news authorities have released an interview with a woman who claims she is trapped in the basement of her bombed-out Tskhinvali home, with the body of her dead son beside her, following a Georgian missile attack. Russia Today, which is sponsored by the Moscow government, claims to have been contacted by Paeesia Sytnik by phone. She is reported to have said: 'The planes are bombing us. I am sitting here in the basement. Fire is raging above us. Let somebody come and help us.'" Scotland on Sunday, 10 August 2008.
     "The Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Georgian Service reported that in Pot military boats of the Georgian armed forces were bombed, which led to death of at least two dozens of people. It also reported that infrastructure damage was also serious as a result of the air strikes." Caucaz.com, 9 August 2008.
     "Koba Liklikadze, a correspondent from Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty’s Georgian service, said: ‘Close to the artillery base, we saw a dreadful sight. Apart from the base itself, two apartment blocks were on fire. The yard was full of bodies.'" Daily Mail, 9 August 2008.
     "The U.S. taxpayer funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty website published a ridiculous article by Echo Moskvy radio's Yulia Latynina, calling South Ossetia a 'terrorist state' and comparing the region to the PLO or Hezbollah statelets in southern Lebanon -- as if the South Ossetians were sending suicide bombers and rockets into Georgia." Charles Ganske, Russia Blog, 9 Augst 2008.
     "Can parties to the conflict attack radio and television stations? Military attacks on broadcast facilities used for military communications are legitimate under international humanitarian law, but such attacks on civilian television or radio stations are prohibited if they are designed primarily to undermine civilian morale or to psychologically harass the civilian population." Human Rights Watch, 8 August 2008.
     "In Tbilisi, a large radio and TV tower was blacked out early Saturday morning for fear of attack." Washington Post, 9 August 2008.
     "After the May 21 parliamentary elections - in which Mr. Saakashvili claimed a constitutional majority - television and radio stations were under threat. In fact, there is only one television station (Rustavi 2) left with permission to air any news at all. The station, as it happens, is owned and operated by the Georgian government. How convenient." Tsotne Bakuria, Washington Times, 10 August 2008.
     "Today, in his first interview on international television since the conflict in South Ossetia, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told Bloomberg 'What we have here is a full scale Russian invasion of Georgian territory.'" Bloomberg press release, 8 August 2008.
     "This morning, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili took to the media to make his case. Saakashvili appeared on CNN American Morning just after 8:35amET, and was interviewed by Kiran Chetry in his first U.S. interview. He had previously been interviewed by BBC News and Bloomberg in the U.K." Media Bistro, 8 August 2008.
     'The potential war between Georgia and Russia was a top story on cable news before getting pushed off by the revelations about John Edwards' affair." Broadcasting & Cable, 8 August 2008.
     "As requested by community relay, the following is a report on the cyber war underway in parallel with conventional warfare. Many of Georgia’s internet servers were under external control from late Thursday, Russia’s invasion of Georgia commenced on Friday." Russian Business Network, 9 August 2008.

A libertarian thinks about U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 10 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"In 1953 I was smuggled out of Hungary by a professional 'flesh peddler' and landed, for three years, in Munich, Germany. That's because my father was working at Radio Free Europe there, as a director of sports coverage. ... I used to hang out a lot at the facilities in the English Garden and befriended a lot of expatriates from the various Iron Curtain countries who helped the effort to inform listeners in those countries about what went on in the world and whatever else they were supposed to be doing. ... Later, when I began to think more carefully about political matters, I had some trepidations about whether RFE and similar ventures carried out by the United States government could pass my libertarian test for what amounts to proper public policy. Should American citizens be forced to fund this kind of undertaking--including Voice of America and, later, several others, beaming news and, let's face it, propaganda to victims of Soviet and Soviet bloc oppression? Can this be construed as legitimate foreign policy for a bona fide free society? Why or why not?" Tibor R. Machan, Machan's Inputs, 7 August 2008.

Calling China. Calling Asia. Will an online strategy work?

Posted: 10 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Chinese Olympics are providing a powerful stimulus in the development of high-end anti-censorship technology that major media companies and individuals can use to sneak content through its Great Firewall. Psiphon Inc., a Toronto-based circumvention technology provider, recently released an upgrade to its software that allows the safe transmission of images in addition to text, says principal Rafal Rohozinski. ... 'Public broadcasters such as the BBC and Voice of America who have a mission to broadcast content not just nationally but internationally are investing heavily in online strategies as they're replacing their previous terrestrial and satellite strategies.'" InterGovWorld, 8 August 2008.
     "Will the internet change China or will China change the internet? Events in Beijing, where the Olympic Games are getting under way, leave little doubt it's the latter. More interesting, though, is that many Asian governments may be following China's lead. It could be an ominous sign for Asia's economic outlook." William Pesek, Bloomberg, 8 August 2008.
     "For reasons which defy comprehension, the Chinese government has chosen to ban the main website of [Right To Play], an international humanitarian-aid organization based in Toronto which has strong Olympic connections and seeks to reach children in the third world through sports and play." Ed Willes, The Province (Vancouver), 10 August 2008.
     "Plenty of websites are still blocked, such as Amnesty International, Free Tibet, and a YouTube video showing the 1989 protest and aftermath at Tiananmen Square." Allen Panzeri, Montreal Gazette, 10 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

International media in China, 1979.

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Not to minimize current problems of human rights, restricted Internet access and press freedom, the openness of China today is almost impossible to comprehend. No country in the world has seen such accelerated change. ... The 'news' that people really trusted was word on the street. Unofficial rumors had much more currency than anything the government-run media claimed. With a shortwave radio, I could pick up BBC world news and Moscow Radio. You had to be in Shanghai or Hong Kong to hear the Voice of America broadcast. The International Herald Tribune arrived from Paris two days late and was sold only to foreigners. ... Officials were beginning to recognize the need for Chinese to learn English, which led to a TV broadcast of an obscure American science fiction series named 'Man from Atlantis.'" Timothy J. McNulty, Chicago Tribune, 8 August 2008.

Al Jazeera English expects permission to enter Indian market "quite soon" (i.e, don't hold your breath) (updated).

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Al Jazeera network is soon likely to be given permission by the Indian government to broadcast its English language television news channel in the country. 'Our understanding is that the external affairs ministry has cleared our application and the I&B (information and broadcasting) ministry is awaiting clearance from the home ministry,' said Anmol Saxena, India bureau chief of Al Jazeera English. 'We have been told the whole process will be completed quite soon.' ... The channel already partners Hindi news channel India TV through a September 2004 deal that allows both channels to broadcast each other’s content. ... The network also plans to launch an Urdu news channel primarily targeted at India." livemint.com, 8 August 2008. Update: “'We had a meeting yesterday with the information and broadcasting ministry and cleared out certain apprehensions they had about the association of Al Jazeera Arabic with the English Channel. We had applied for clearance some time back and are now hopeful that we would be able to start operations in India by early 2009,' says Al Jazeera English managing director Tony Burman." Indiantelevision.com, 9 August 2008. See also The Hindu Business Line, 10 August 2008.

Nevertheless, one more reporter than RFA usually has in China.

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Committee to Protect Journalists is deeply concerned that Dhondup Gonsar, an American citizen of Tibetan ethnicity who works for the U.S. government-funded broadcaster Radio Free Asia (RFA), has not yet received press accreditation from Olympic organizers that would allow him to enter China to cover the Olympic Games, which begin Friday. Gonsar and Radio Free Asia officials in Washington have told CPJ that RFA was informed in writing by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in July 2007 that RFA had been allocated two sets of press credentials by the IOC, but only received one, for RFA’s Mandarin-service reporter." CPJ, 8 August 2008. "'Twenty-four hours before the opening of the Olympic Games in Beijing, RFA hasn’t received an entry permit for our Tibetan service broadcaster, U.S. citizen Dhondup Gonsar. We deplore this stonewalling by the Chinese authorities,' RFA president Libby Liu said." RFA press release, 7 August 2008.

RSF claims FM pirate gambit in Beijing.

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Members of Reporters Without Borders today broadcast 'Radio Without Borders,' China’s only independent FM radio station, in Beijing just hours before the start of the Olympic Games opening ceremony. In a programme lasting 20 minutes, Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Robert Menard and Chinese human rights activists called on the Chinese government to respect free speech. ... The programme, in English, French and Mandarin, was heard in on 104.4 FM in different districts of the Chinese capital." Reporters sans frontieres, 8 August 2008 (includes audio of the broadcasts). "In different districts of the Chinese capital" implies either one transmitter powerful enough to reach more than one district, or several transmitters, each in different districts.
     "It’s hard to tell whether any [Beijing residents] were actually listening. The Wall Street Journal called stations in the city including Beijing Radio, Central Radio and China Radio International to see if they noticed this hijacking of the airwaves. It turns out that none of these stations broadcast on the 104.4 FM frequency. So would any listeners have been tuned into that frequency this morning?" Andrew Batson, Wall Street Journal, 8 August 2008.

A U.S. dog in the Muslim ideological fight?

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Nearly seven years after the 9/11 attacks spawned the question, 'Why do they hate us?' and made the repair of America's poor international image a top foreign-policy pursuit, the Bush administration is taking a new tack in the 'war of ideas.' Out, or at least de-emphasized, is the effort to explain America and its widely disdained foreign policy. In, on the other hand, is a focus on defeating terrorism and in particular radical Islam by largely leaving America out of the equation. The plan, instead, is to promote alternatives to radical violent extremism and nurture the local forces deemed best suited to countering it." Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor, 7 August 2008.
     Recommended reading, because it deals with public diplomacy at the theoretical level. It should stimulate thought experiments that will keep some of us awake at night.
     Can the United States really involve itself in any debate about moderate versus radical interpretations of Islam? Would U.S. support discredit any Muslim who advocates moderation and non-violence? (See previous posts on 20 May 2007, 20 June 2007, 2 December 2007, and 12 January 2008.) That support could be covert, but such schemes are eventually revealed, compounding any such discredit.
     Perhaps U.S. public diplomacy should leave "the effort to explain America and its widely disdained foreign policy" to U.S. international broadcasting. The latter, separate from U.S. public diplomacy, can report and explain without advocating. Propaganda advocating unpopular policies, adding insult to injury, may just make those policies even more unpopular.
     Indeed, the best outlet for Muslim moderates might be the BBC World Service, with its aggressive reporting from the Muslim countries and its interviews with personalities representing many points of views. When radicals and more reasonable minds are juxtaposed, the radicals are usually the worse for it.
     U.S. international broadcasting usually gets into trouble if it gives airtime to persons U.S. policy makers consider insalubrious. Recall the outcry after VOA's interview with Mullah Omar, or Alhurra broadcasting a speech by Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah that led to the exit of Alhurra's news director. On the other hand, Radio Free Afghanistan often interviews Taliban spokesmen, and is probably considered a credible news outlet because of it.
     As for U.S. public diplomacy to the Muslim world, its best avenues may be shopping interviews with U.S. spokepersons and officials to the domestic media in those countries. And precise statements of U.S. policy at websites such as arabic.usinfo.state.gov and persian.usinfo.state.gov. (These sites apparently have not been renamed America.gov, as in the English version.) U.S. public diplomacy should also monitor the activities of moderates in the Muslim world. It may be determined that those activities are self sufficient, in which case the United States should consider leaving well enough alone.

Two views on the elimination of a Canadian public diplomacy program.

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Members of Canada's arts community erupted yesterday upon hearing the federal government's decision to eliminate the already diminished Promart program, which provides grants to send artists and cultural figures abroad to raise the country's cultural profile. The program, administered by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, has an annual budget of $4.7-million and distributed grants to more than 300 individuals and arts organizations in 2006-2007. It will be discontinued as of March 31, 2009. 'This is unconscionable,' said Alain Pineau, national director of the Canadian Conference of the Arts. 'This is a major hit and it reflects the total lack of comprehension of the government with regards to the role of arts and culture in representing the image of the country abroad.'" Globe and Mail, 9 August 2008.
     "Nonsense. If Canadian artists produce world-class art, then it will be noticed on the world stage -- with or without government assistance. Moreover, the Tories are not telling artists to stop producing their movies, paintings, alternative rock or books. Rather, they are simply telling them to stop financing their international junkets from the wallets of overburdened taxpayers. Except for those on their way to boring conferences in Finland, or cocktails with Cuba's communist junta, Canadians will no doubt heartily approve." Editorial, National Post, 9 Augist 2008.

HCJB engineer wins ARRL award.

Posted: 09 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Winner of the American Radio Relay League's Technical Excellence Award is John Stanley, who "has taught in several universities and has worked for all of the major religious broadcasters, but spent the majority of his time with HCJB in Quito, Ecuador where he oversaw the use of a 24-element quad antenna for broadcasting on the 21 MHz shortwave broadcast band. While at HCJB, Stanley designed and built several transmitters and did major work on the 20 kW unit presently used by HCJB for SSB and Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) broadcasts." ARRL Letter, 8 August 2008.

Public diplomacy: posh propaganda?

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Governments around the world continually try, as ever, to boost their country's international standing and influence. But instead of pursuing these aims through warfare, domination, subversion, Machiavellian statecraft and secret alliances, as in the past, many are reaching for a fashionable new tool: 'public diplomacy'. Originally coined in the 1960s, public diplomacy is a means of advancing national foreign policy, security and economic objectives by engaging directly with peoples rather than with their governments – thereby rendering them more receptive and sympathetic to a given message or policy. Sceptics say this is merely a posh name for propaganda; proponents say public diplomacy's purposes are more benign." Simon Tisdall, The Guardian's Comment is Free, 6 August 2008.

Public diplomacy at the margins.

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Should we be using more effort to win the hearts and minds of the people? Sure we should. On the other hand, we should not have any expectations that our efforts in that regard are going to be decisive. I think that there are analogies that can be drawn with the Cold War. Americans—especially Americans who are great admirers of Ronald Reagan—like to think that the United States won the Cold War. I think that's a misperception. The Soviet Union lost the Cold War. They lost in large part because of development internal to the Soviet Union, or more broadly, to the Soviet Empire, that brought that empire down. The people who won the Cold War were the dissidents of the Soviet Union and the dissidents of Eastern Europe. Pope John Paul II, those are the people who ended up demonstrating that the Soviet system had no legitimacy and could not work. And that was decisive. What did we, in the West, do to help the people, to help the dissidents to make their case? We did some things, but it was mostly within the margins. We could provide them with some money, with some tape recorders, with photocopying machines. We could covertly sponsor publications that might have helped to advance the cause of demonstration that communism was bankrupt, but it was all in the margin. So we should be trying today, in the concept of the strategy of containment, to have that, to make that contribution on the margin. To try to aid those in the Islamic world who represent liberal and humane values. We should do it with no expectation that a few billion dollars or a public diplomacy program there is going to turn the tide, because they're not. At the end of the day, they are going to have to solve their own problems." Andrew J. Bacevich, professor, Boston University, interviewed by Greg Bruno, Council on Foreign Relations, 5 August 2008.

China: let the web access games begin.

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"This week the Chaos Computer Club, a German-based hacking group, used its website, ccc.de, to launch a toolkit designed to help journalists reporting from the Olympics to get uncensored access to western websites. The toolkit will be made available to journalists on a USB key that the CCC is calling the Freedom Stick." The Guardian, 7 August 2008.
     "The greatest game at the 2008 Olympics ... will be played on the Internet. Journalists, Olympic spectators, and Chinese citizens will attempt to write, publish, broadcast, and read stories. The Chinese government will attempt to control these stories or stop them entirely." Dan Costa, PC Magazine, 7 August 2008.

Yank says Brit used offensive word.

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"I was flabbergasted as I listened to the 'BBC World Service' radio news program last evening (August 5, 2008) on KQED 88.5 FM. In the BBC's report of the arrival of the Olympics torch at the Beijing event, their reporter, Quentin Summerville, said, '... and the most feared 'Chinaman,' Yao Ming, ... ' Lest the BBC not know it yet, the term 'Chinaman' is a racially offensive and derogatory word. It is a racial slur. It is offensive to Chinese Americans, Asian Americans, and Asians." Jeff Clark, CEO, KQED, BeyondChron, 7 August 2008.

Getting the world news (rather than NFL news) in Milwaukee.

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"If you need a dose of national and international news and you don’t have cable, Milwaukee Public TV offers German TV’s English-language 'Journal' at 5:30 weeknights, on Channel 36, followed at 6 by 'BBC World News' and at 6:30 by 'NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.' You can bet that none of them will ever be interrupted by coverage of Brett Favre." Tim Cuprisin, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 6 August 2008.

Replaces shuffleboard on the deck.

Posted: 07 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Wave Entertainment Network(TM), a division of SeaMobile(R) Enterprises, announced today its top-tier IPTV television platform available to the cruise line industry worldwide. The continually expanding lineup includes linear and on-demand programming services from major media companies such as A&E Networks, CBS, Comcast, Cox Communications, Discovery Networks, Fox Cable, Fox News, NBC Universal, Twentieth Century Fox Studios and Viacom. In addition, cruise line guests who are sailing in the Mediterranean are able to view television programs in a variety of different languages from the top European providers, including Euronews, BBC News, BBC Prime, France 24, TV5 Monde, RAI International, RAI News 24, DW TV, ARD, and TVE International." SeaMobile Enterprises press release, 7 August 2008.

Heritage is again trying to increase the size of the federal government, this time invoking the memory of Solzhenitsyn.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"There are important contemporary lessons to be learned from Solzhenitsyn's life and work, which transcend Russia and Communism. These lessons are overdue for today's American diplomacy. Thus far, the West has failed to find a comparable titan for the War of Ideas we need to wage against Islamist radicalism. ... Championing anti-authoritarian moderates and freedom fighters should take priority over pushing through hasty elections and calling the process 'democracy promotion.' A new U.S. public diplomacy and strategic communications agency would be instrumental in accomplishing such goals, as are non-profit organizations around the world." Ariel Cohen, Heritage Foundation, 5 August 2008.

VOA's PNN examines corruption in Iran.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America (VOA) is examining corruption in Iran in a series of stories based on an Iranian parliamentary report obtained exclusively by the Persian News Network (PNN). The seven-part series, seen by millions of viewers across Iran on PNN's satellite TV channel, details, among other things, how Iranian Government officials accepted bribes from students seeking entry into the competitive university system." VOA press release, 4 August 2008. "VOA has dispatched 10 journalists to provide comprehensive coverage of the" Summer Olympics. VOA press release, 6 August 2008.

Back when a person could be hired "on the spot" for a job in international broadcasting.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mike Costello, executive director of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce, is retiring. ... Though Costello has made a name for himself in Cape Ann in the world of business, he began his career as a specialist in communist affairs for Radio Free Europe in the late 1960s. Costello did his undergraduate work in communist affairs before going on to Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy for his master's degree. Just weeks before graduating, Costello was able to get a hold of a Radio Free Europe recruiter as the man was getting into his taxi. Costello was signed up on the spot. Costello spent the next seven years in Munich, Germany, conducting research on Bulgarian and Polish affairs for the radio and analyzing broadcasts to make sure their commentary was not sensationalized." Gloucester (MA) Daily Times, 5 August 2008.

No CCTV, no Olympics breakfast at the Chinese Embassy.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Invitations were sent two weeks ago by the Chinese Embassy [in Ottawa], inviting guests on behalf of Ambassador Lan Lijun to 'watch the live TV broadcasting of the opening ceremonies of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games.' It was a breakfast event to take place between 7:30 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. on Aug. 8. Last Tuesday, however, invitees received emails and calls informing them that the event had been cancelled. When asked why, embassy spokesman Eugene Tian said the event was cancelled because it had become 'technically non-viable.' He said that when the embassy was planning the event, staff were unaware the official broadcast by China Central Television could not be obtained. The CBC holds exclusive broadcasting rights in Canada. ... 'Anyone at home, they can watch CBC,' he added. 'But for the embassy to host official events, we think it is proper to show the Chinese Central Television.'" Embassy, 6 August 2008.

RFI says its site is still blocked in China.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio France Internationale's website in Mandarin has been partially blocked, ahead of Thursday's opening of the Olympic Games. Despite an official promise to lift internet restrictions, only the homepage is now accessible with access to articles and broadcasts blocked." Radio France International 5 August 2008.
     "As Beijing Olympic Games approaches, Germany's English-language newspaper [sic] Deutsche Welle helped to deliver the good wishes from German political and business leaders, scholars and athletes on the quadrennial sports gala. 'Over the coming weeks, we will be cheering on our athletes. I believe that the Olympics will bring more openness to China. We certainly have every reason to wish for that,' German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier was quoted as saying by the latest issue of the monthly [sic]." Beijing 2008 Olympic Games official website, 6 August 2008.
     "Compared to the relatively powerless 250 million Chinese netizens, the 22,000 journalists registered to report on the Olympics – especially the foreign reporters – have already demonstrated their muscle in breaking through the firewall." UPI, 6 August 2008.
     "At an international tech gathering I attended when the journey of the Olympic torch was being interrupted on daily basis, the Chinese tech journalists that I spoke to were furious at the coverage that the Western media were giving to it. Their opinion? That it was being done deliberately to cause maximum embarrassment to China. The recent news about restricting Web access is building on this." Simon Perry, Digital Lifestyles, 6 August 2008.

How international media reach Burma.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Most people rely on the Burmese-language services of foreign broadcasters like the British Broadcasting Corp., the Voice of America and Radio Free Asia. Also broadcasting in Burmese are All-India Radio, Radio Thailand, China Radio International, the Voice of Malaysia, NHK Radio Japan, and a Christian radio station based in the Philippines. The Democratic Voice of Burma broadcasts in Burmese and in seven ethnic minority languages. In May 2005, DVB launched a TV station telecasting via satellite into the country. It remains the only Burmese-operated broadcasting operation that beams television signals straight into the country. Taking advantage of thousands of satellite dishes set up by both legal and black market operators in Rangoon, and even of a one-percent Internet penetration rate among the Burmese people, these foreign and exiled news groups exploit an inevitability in the flow of information in the digital age, but still underscore the desperation of Burma for news unfettered by government controls." Southeast Asian Press Alliance, 5 August 2008.

Religious broadcasting organizations swapping continents?

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Destroyed by Liberia's civil war, "ELWA most recently went back on the air in 1997 with a small FM transmitter. In 2000, HCJB Global Voice provided a low-power shortwave transmitter, again enabling the station to cover the entire region. Today, HCJB Global Voice is partnering with ELWA because 'much of their equipment was outdated. We committed to provide for them some training and some equipment.' ... Right now, the station airs eight hours of English broadcast per day and 1 1/2 hours of Liberian Language broadcast in Grebo, Kru, Gola, Bassa, Kpelle, Kissi, Dan, Krahn and Loma. It is supported almost entirely by local funds." Mission Network News, 6 August 2008.
     ELWA was a prominent Protestant evangelical shortwave broadcaster from the 1950s through the 1980s. It was owned by Sudan Interior Mission, and is still associated with its successor organization Serving in Mission. SIM's present connection with ELWA seems not to be given too much emphasis, perhaps to reinforce ELWA's present status as a Liberian domestic broadcaster. HCJB's connection to ELWA is lately getting get more publicity, in line with one of HCJB's three main goals: "engaging Sub-Saharan Africa with a combination of life-transforming media and healthcare." (See previous post.)
     Meanwhile, SIM is assisting Radio Mosoj Chaski, a low-powered Bolivian shortwave station broadcasting in Quechua. (See www.sim.org.au via Craig Seager, ARDXC via DX Listening Digest, 3 August 2008.) This is in the back yard of HCJB's original shortwave base in Ecuador, established in 1931. HCJB has broadcast in Quechua (among other languages) for decades. However, because airport construction will displace HCJB's antenna site, HCJB's shortwave operations in Ecuador have been curtailed and may end altogether.
See also hcjb.org.

Trans-planetary broadcasts may become part of an archive far, far away.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
UK television production company RDF and social networking service Bebo are collaborating "to send a signal to the planet Gliese C, more than 20 light years away, carrying 500 messages from earth. ... Radiowaves, such as those of a short-wave frequency, bounce back off the ionosphere and are therefore poor candidates to be picked up in space. But waves like FM radio or television signal can pierce it and travel through the vacuum of space at the speed of light. ... In the case of the RDF/Bebo message, it is being sent in a concentrated beam by the giant RT-70 radio telescope in Ukraine." BBC News, 6 August 2008.

Trans-Atlantic shortwave recordings added to LOC Registry.

Posted: 06 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Library of Congress selects for its 2007 National Recording Registry a recording on discs from 14 March 1925 "of the first scheduled transatlantic broadcast via shortwave, converted and sent to the [U.S.] listening public on the AM band." It is part of the collection of the University of Maryland's Library of American Broadcasting. LAB press release, 6 August 2008. See also LAB website, including its collection of shortwave broadcast QSL cards.

Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1918-2008) and international broadcasting.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Solzhenitsyn had always been an avid listener to foreign radio stations on shortwave, and when he heard the news that 'Gulag' had been published abroad he allowed himself just a moment’s satisfaction. ... Not only was 'Gulag' now out in the West; it was also being read in Russian over Radio Liberty—a phenomenon that insured even greater outrage in the Kremlin." David Remnick, The New Yorker, 14 February 1994.
     After arriving in exile in Vermont, Solzhenitsyn listened to "BBC Russian-language news, which Solzhenitsyn would rush outdoors to tune in to on a portable shortwave radio." Serge Schemann, New York Times, 5 August 2008.
     "From exile, he read this series, 'The Red Wheel,' over The Voice of America, sending his words back into Russia. ... Critics said it revealed a deep anti-liberal bias." Martha Wexler, National Public Radio, 4 August 2008.

Murder of RFA GC unsolved after two years.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Silence now surrounds the unsolved homicide of Robert Wone, a rising lawyer stabbed to death two years ago. ... Police Inspector Rodney Parks said the case will remain open at least until next year when it is reviewed for active leads — a standard timeline for unsolved homicides. ... Wone lived in Oakton, Va., and prior to his death was general counsel at Radio Free Asia." Washington Examiner, 4 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

More articles in Epoch Times about Falun Gong media access to China.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Several non-governmental organizations, supporters and viewers of New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) gathered in front of the Los Angeles Federal building on August 1. They demanded that the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) continue its contract with Eutelsat (European Satellite Communication Company). Protestors said that instead of leaving the W5 satellite and transferring broadcasting of Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) to Chinese communist regime controlled Asia Sat 3S satellite, the BBG should keep these programs on the W5 satellite and assist NTDTV to resume broadcasting to mainland China." Epoch Times, 4 August 2008. Letter to U.S. officials, Epoch Times, 3 August 2008. Another story: Epoch Times, 3 August 2008. "Most of the websites banned by the CCP remains out of reach in mainland China, including websites related to the Falun Gong spiritual practice, Tibet and the Tiananmen massacre." Epoch Times, 4 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

A call for China-US media reciprocity.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
When President Bush is in Beijing: "How about proposing a free information exchange agreement with China? The Chinese government is already educating the American public about China, without much reciprocity. Why shouldn't our own government-sponsored programs be able to tell the Chinese audience about the United States without censorship? Fair is fair. In fact, the Chinese have been operating freely in the United States for some time. Want to watch China's Central TV station in Chinese or English? Just subscribe to cable TV. Not enough for you? Dozens of Chinese channels are available by satellite. Want to read a Chinese newspaper? Buy a subscription. Chinese Web sites are free and are always available. China has developed plenty of ways, backed by massive government funding, to explain itself to U.S. citizens. Unfortunately, there is no reciprocity. Broadcasting into China by the Voice of America is often jammed, and its Web site is frequently blocked. And the impact of other U.S. government-sponsored programs is negligible." Sasha Gong, Washington Post, 4 August 2008.

Apropos: CRI will be rebroadcast in Athens.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Athens Mayor Nikitas Kaklamanis "said the Athens' municipal radio station has signed an agreement with China Radio International that would allow the broadcasting of news and other information in the Chinese language in Athens. 'I consider this cooperation very important as it promotes cultural exchanges and facilitates the life of Chinese people in Athens.'" Xinhua, 4 August 2008.

Watch the Olympics online, or not?

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"CCTV.com, the online division of China Central Television (CCTV), China's primary television broadcaster, has deployed ViewCast's Osprey-530 digital video capture cards with SimulStream(R) technology to enable live streaming of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing to the CCTV.com Web site. ... CCTV.com has been granted the exclusive rights to stream the Olympic content by the International Olympic Committee." ViewCast press release, 5 August 2008. "Due to the International Olympic Committee's strict restrictions on the telecast of Olympic events, China Central Television's telecast rights are only allowed on the Chinese Mainland. Therefore, all CCTV International channels – CCTV-4, CCTV-9, CCTV-F, CCTV-E, will not broadcast the opening and closing ceremony and all the events of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games." CCTV.com web page. Overview of foreign broadcasters' experiences in covering the Olympics in China. Broadcasting & Cable, 4 August 2008.

The Al Jazeera detractors and their "dubious company."

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Those who oppose AJE's presence on American cable systems are doing what many have done before: shoot the messenger because they don't like the message. They are in dubious company. The list is long but most recently Vladimir Putin's government stopped the broadcast of BBC's Russian radio service calling it 'foreign propaganda' and 'anti-Russian.' Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance in Iran banned CNN after it claimed that CNN had misquoted a speech by the Iranian president. Al Jazeera Arabic has faced bans and fines in Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain." Shakuntala Rao, Burlington Free Press, 5 August 2008.

A reinvented World Service?

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC World Service is funded by the Foreign Office, supposedly as Britain's voice around the world. However, both the BBC and this government see its audience as being largely Africa and Asia, with eastern Europe and South America a poor third and fourth. That is why France has been dropped. Rather than present Britain to the world – as it once did with British plays, British music, British literature, news about Britain – it now sees itself as an uncritical broadcaster of global events. The little music played is anything but British. Like the Commonwealth, the BBC World Service has been re-invented. And like the Commonwealth, the mother country hardly gets a look in." Charles Durrant, letter to The Telegraph, 4 August 2008.

International radio via iPhone.

Posted: 05 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The outstanding new feature on Apple's iPhone - both the new 3G and original versions - is that it allows users to download and install applications. ... [A] music application I like is Nullriver's 'Tuner Internet Radio,' which costs about $6 and allows users to access hundreds of terrestrial radio stations from around the world. I got a kick using it to tune into a station in Jamaica, a rock channel out of Poland and to BBC's World Service." Troy Wolverton, San Jose Mercury News, 4 August 2008. See also Nullriver Tuner web page.

Indian regulator objects to loss of BBC channels from basic satellite package.

Posted: 03 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Broadcast tribunal TDSAT has issued notices to direct-to-home operator TataSky over a petition alleging 'illegal and unauthorised' removal of prime channels by the operator from its basic package has forced its subscribers to pay more. ... TataSky took off prime channels such as BBC World, Star Sports, ESPN, Star Cricket, Ten Sports, BBC Entertainment and BBC Celebrity from the basic package and placed them on add-on packages, wherein a higher subscription fee is charged, the petition said." PTI, 3 August 2008.

VOA a factor in Zimbabwe legal case.

Posted: 03 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"A local magistrate last week granted an interdict barring police from interfere with the operations of a branch of a non-governmental organisation in a move that civic society has applauded. Magistrate Mrs Muchena granted the order last Wednesday to the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) by default after listed respondents failed to appear in court. ZIMCET regional manager, Peter Muchengeti through his lawyer Reginald Chidawanyika of Chitere and Chidawanyika law firm, had sought an interim relief order stopping police from interfering with ZIMCET operations, visiting its offices and harassing its employees or threatening them with arrest for unspecified charges. ... Muchengeti is being accused of publishing or communicating to another person 'a statement which is wholly or materially false with the intention or realising that there is a real risk or possibility of public violence or endangering public safety'. The charge was said to arise from comments Muchengeti allegedly made to the 'Voice of America Radio Network (Studio 7 Broadcasting) through its reporter Patience Rusere … which was wholly false, that there was a discovery of six bodies at Matshekandumba Village at the 30-kilometre peg along the Gweru- Kwekwe Road'." The Standard (Harare), 2 August 2008. See previous post about ame subject.

Press TV will participate in Gaza gambit.

Posted: 03 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"A crew from Press TV in Iran have arrived in Cyprus to join a group of US-based activists who are planning to challenge Israel's blockade of the Palestinian territory. The Free Gaza group announced last week its plan to sail to Gaza and try to test the Israeli claim that Gaza is free, by entering by sea to the port of Gaza. Award-winning journalist Yvonne Ridley, now working for Press TV, will set sail with the Free Gaza group which will make the trip in two Greek-flagged boats." Famagusta Gazette (Nicosia), 2 August 2008.

China: more websites to be unblocked (for foreign journalists)?

Posted: 02 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Six days before the Beijing Olympics, Chinese and international organisers were working together on a compromise to unblock more censored websites for foreign media, a senior IOC official said Saturday. ... On Friday, the previously barred websites of Amnesty, media watchdog Reporters Without Borders and German broadcaster Deutsche Welle were accessible. But many other sites were still blocked, including those linked to Chinese dissidents, the outlawed Falungong spiritual movement, the Tibetan government-in-exile and sites with information on the 1989 Tiananmen massacre." AFP, 2 August 2008.
     "Australian International Olympic Committee (IOC) member and head of the press commission, Kevan Gosper, said a working party had been established to ensure journalists could report on Games-related issues within China. 'The IOC put in place a working group with BOCOG to start examining one by one those sites on the internet that the international media thought should be unblocked,' he told reporters in Beijing." Australian Associated Press, 2 August 2008.
     Radio Netherlands reporter in Beijing "tested eight different websites and topics at three different locations on Friday." All were accessible at all locations except for Falun Gong and Tienanmen word searches, and China Digital Times, inaccessible at all locations. Sigrid Deters, Radio Netherlands, 1 August 2008.
     "The Global Internet Freedom Consortium (GIFC) announced today that their anti-censorship software tools are ready to help journalists and tourists during the
Olympics, to circumvent China's Internet blockade." GIFC press release, 2 August 2008.
     "The International Olympic Committee made no deal with China on limited Internet access for the media at the Beijing Olympics, IOC president Jacques Rogge said on Saturday. 'There has absolutely been no deal, no agreement with the Chinese,' Rogge told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa around IOC executive board meetings ahead of the August 8-24 Games." DPA, 2 August 2008.
     "The Chinese move is welcome, although the fact that it has come about cannot be credited to the International Olympic Committee, which has signally failed to insist that Beijing takes all necessary steps to ensure "the fullest coverage by the different media" (the words of its charter). First, the move injects a degree of transparency into the system of censorship. By unblocking access to these sites, the Chinese authorities appear to be distinguishing between organisations that are critical of the state and those they consider its enemies. That in itself is progress." Editorial, The Guardian, 2 August 2008.
     "I really don't understand why the journalists need those websites to report on the Olympics. Can't they write their stories by themselves or they need to copy them from other websites? This whole thing is just about whining and bashing on China." Comment to Danwei, 2 August 2008.
     "For ordinary Chinese, of course, the Internet and other media are strictly controlled -- not by Beijing alone. Western corporations like Microsoft, Google and Yahoo have worked with Communist authorities to block sites that refer, for example, to Tibet's liberation movement or human-rights abuses in China." Spiegel Online, 1 August 2008. Yes, the unblocking of websites applies to journalists covering the Olympics, but may not, and probably does not, affect typical internet users throughout China. See previous post about same subject.

Falun Gong media press on access to Eutelsat (updated).

Posted: 02 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Another snag has emerged, hindering New Tang Dynasty TV (NTDTV) from resuming its broadcast into China. Recently, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG)—which broadcasts Voice of America and Radio Free Asia into Asia—announced that it will soon switch from Eutelsat to Asiasat as its satellite provider. ... Because the BBG now uses the CCP-controlled Asiasat 3S, the Chinese regime can interfere with this signal at any time, terminating any program it desires. BBG originally used the Ku band (Kurtz-under band) on its W5 broadcast into China, allowing even relatively small satellite dishes to receive its signal, making it accessible to more viewers. On Asiasat, the BBG uses the C-Band television channel, requiring a much larger satellite dish—substantially reducing viewership and making it more easily detectible to Chinese Internet police." Epoch Times, 29 July 2008. See also Epoch Times, 28 July 2008 and 30 July 2008. Epoch Times and NTDTV are both related to the Falun Gong religious movement. On 30 July, I saw one woman in front of the VOA headquarters protesting BBG's exit from Eutelsat W5. BBG has not disputed Eutelsat's explanation (previous post) that channels were removed from W5 because of "an anomaly which led to the loss of the use of one of the spacecraft’s two solar arrays." In any case, the W5 footprint centers more on Southeast Asia than China. Asiasat 3 appears to be the most popular among home dish users in China. Less affluent households in China use C-band more than Ku-band dishes, because programming on the former tends to be free-to-air. The new official Chinese DTH satellite system, coming in the next few years, may change satellite use patterns. See previous post about same subject. Update: "In recent years, due to the Chinese regime’s interference, temptations, and machinations, BBG moved the signal of Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Asia (RFA) from the W5 satellite to the China-controlled satellite, AsiaSat 3S, at the end of 2007, and has chosen to formally end its contract with Eutelsat on July 31, 2008. That being the case, Eutelsat will have a better excuse to stop carrying NTDTV’s signal on Eutelsat’s W5." Wang Hua, Epoch Times, 1 August 2008. Unclear why NTDTV's signal on W5 is connected to those of the BBG.

Eighty years of Radio Taiwan International (and predecessors).

Posted: 02 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Taiwan International (RTI) celebrated on Friday its 80th Anniversary and its 10th year as Taiwan's national broadcaster. ... RTI Chairman Cheng You said ... that RTI has come a long way and made some major changes. Chairman You said that the future of RTI will tend towards raising program quality and strengthening international broadcasting." RTI, 2 August 2008. "The original Central Broadcasting System and the international department of the Broadcasting Corporation of China came out of the Central Broadcasting System of the KMT government in Nanjing, China which was established in 1928." Introduction to RTI. Previous names for the international service were Voice of Free China and, later, Radio Taipei International, before settling on the present, more independent-minded "Radio Taiwan International."

Radio Netherlands on the Indian FM dial.

Posted: 02 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
Radio Netherlands "has entered into partnership with Radio Misty 94.3FM, the North Bengal and Sikkim FM station that will air a variety of RNW music programmes ranging from European pop charts to classical, jazz and world music as also RNW radio books. After a long-term presence in India with short wave and satellite radio broadcasts, RNW has now begun to expand its activities in India." Radioandmusic.com, 2 August 2008. But no news, of course, as news is still banned on non-AIR FM stations.

Al Jazeera defends Arab media coverage of Darfur.

Posted: 01 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"In recent months, western experts and media advocacy groups have said that the alleged crimes committed in Darfur – rape, burning and razing of villages, and the plight of tens of thousands of refugees – have been poorly reported in the Arab press. ... Ahmed Sheikh, the chief editor of Al Jazeera's Arabic channel, said it was Arab media that first reported on the violence in Darfur and brought it to the attention of the West. He said: 'As far as Al Jazeera [Arabic service] is concerned, it is unfair to say we were blind to Darfur, we were the first actually before any western media organisation even mentioned the word Darfur. We were the first to enter the area and do a documentary about it, and the first images of the burned villages and the atrocities committed there came on our screens not the BBC or CNN. We were the first to break the story.'" Aljazeera.net, 31 July 2008. See also Aljazeera.net, 21 July 2008.

Among the competitive challenges to Worldspace: a dongle.

Posted: 01 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"i-Radio Pop. Play and Record your favourite tunes over 12,000 (and increasing) stations worldwide. This USB plug n' play dongle streams high quality music live over the internet from any part of the world. One will be delighted to discover new tunes which you must have never heard before. This little dongle obviously scores if compared to World Space Radio. All you need is a internet connection with a speed of 128 Kbps to get going." Radioandmusic.com (Mumbai), 1 August 2008.

Radio Singapore International leaves the air.

Posted: 01 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"Singapore's regional radio station, Radio Singapore International (RSI), ceased broadcasts on Thursday, ending its 15-year run. ... The regional shortwave radio service was set up in 1994 and broadcasted in English, Mandarin, Malay and Bahasa Indonesia. ... MediaCorp announced the decision nearly two months ago, saying it was because the effectiveness of a shortwave radio service had diminished over time, with changing technology and media consumption habits." Xinhua, 31 July 2008. "With its closure, the Kranji Shortwave Transmitting Station is also ceasing operations." Channel News Asia, 31 July 2008. "Thank you for visiting this page. Please note that Radio Singapore International’s shortwave
service has ended with effect from 1 August 2008, and the domain www.rsi.sg no longer exists." Radio Singapore International website, already shut down, so apparently no chance to hear archived audio of the last broadcasts. For monitoring of RSI's last broadcasts, consult DX Listening Digest on 31 July 2008 and 27 July 2008.

China relents: allows access to BBC, VOA, RFA, DW, but not all websites.

Posted: 01 Aug 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC's Chinese-language website appeared to be unblocked on Thursday. Other Chinese-language websites, such as Voice of America and Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, also now appear accessible. But restrictions remain. The website of the Falun Gong, a spiritual movement banned in China, is still blocked." BBC News, 1 August 2008. "Journalists at the media centre were able to access sites for human rights advocate Amnesty International, US broadcaster Radio Free Asia, the China-critical Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily, and Human Rights Watch as well as the site of a group advocating Taiwan independence." DPA, 1 August 2008. See also New York Times, 1 August 2008.
     Reporters sans frontiers "learned today that its website (www.rsf.org), which has been blocked in China since 2003, can now be accessed at the Olympic press centre in Beijing and in other parts of the capital, and in Shanghai." RSF, 1 August 2008. Included in advice for journalists covering the human rights situation in China: "Monitor the following independent Chinese-language sources of news about China: the BBC in Chinese (http://news.bbc.co.uk/chinese), Radio Free Asia in Chinese (www.rfa.org/mandarin) and Boxun (www.boxun.com)." RSF, 30 July 2008.
     "Amnesty International today welcomed the unblocking of its website in the Olympics media venues and reportedly in other parts of Beijing. But it insisted that the promise of 'complete media freedom' in China during the Olympics has still not been honoured and that the IOC and world leaders should press for an end to Internet censorship in China." amnesty.org.uk, 1 August 2008.
     "The National Press Club protests the decision by Olympic organizers to censor Internet access of journalists who are covering the Beijing Games." NPC press release, 31 July 2008.
     Kai Ludwig summarizes and translates: "DW's Chinese website is again accessible in China. But now they investigate a disruption of DW-TV on the cable net for Olympic facilities on July 29, which happened while a documentary about doping in China aired. The disruption had the appearance of a frozen image, as happens when a digital distribution chain loses its source." Deutsche Welle, 1 August 2008.
     "Like the old division of West and East Berlin, [the 2008 Olympics] has become a rare laboratory experiment in comparing ways of life. And, as with Berlin, the existing Chinese government may not be fully prepared for the implications of the result." Editorial, National Post, 1 August 2008.
     "Next week come the Games themselves, so lavish, so decorated with trappings of China's new power, so prefaced with human-dwarfing ceremonies of mass power, that we will be awoken sharply to a rising might that will soon dominate our century. In the meantime, we have the weasels of the IOC, showing this week how institutions we trust to spread Western values to a totalitarian regime, may in fact help instead to spread totalitarian values to the West." Andrew Bolt, Herald Sun (Melbourne), 1 August 2008. See previous post about same subject.

China favored to win the gold in the website blocking event.

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"International media should have been told they would not have completely free access to the Internet before they arrived to report on the Beijing Olympics, IOC press chief Kevan Gosper told Reuters on Thursday." Reuters, 31 July 2008.
     "IOC Press Commission head Kevan Gosper has apologised for misleading the media by promising journalists that internet access during the Beijing Olympics would be unfettered." The Australian, 31 July 2008.
     "Chinese organisers said that the censorship would not hamper journalists in their job of reporting on the Games. Sun Weide, a Bocog official, said that the plan had always been to provide 'sufficient' internet access for foreign reporters. Sites run by the Falun Gong religious sect remain inaccessible, as do most sites with the word Tibet in their internet address." The Times, 31 July 2008.
     "A BOCOG spokesman, Sun Weide, said that the authorities would provide 'sufficient and convenient Internet access' so that reporting on the Olympics would 'not be affected.' But he refused to explain what 'sufficient' meant in the government's eyes, and he did not disclose which websites would be blocked." Globe and Mail, 31 July 2008.
     "Jonathan Watts, president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of China, said he was disappointed that Beijing had failed to honor its agreement to temporarily remove the firewall that prevented Chinese citizens from fully using the Internet. "Obviously if reporters can't access all the sites they want to see, they can't do their jobs,' he said. 'Unfortunately such restrictions are normal for reporters in China, but the Olympics were supposed to be different.'" International Herald Tribune, 31 July 2008.
     "The cosy deal between two of the world's most powerful bodies — the Chinese Communist Party and the International Olympic Committee — to strip away media freedoms reflects badly on both." Jacquelin Magnay, The Age (Melbourne), 1 August 2008.
     "When China made its bid for the Olympics seven years ago, it promised that the foreign media would have 'complete freedom to report.'" Interntional Freedom of Expression Exchange, 30 July 2008.
     Reporters sans frontieres "condemns the International Olympic Committee’s acceptance of the fact the Chinese authorities are blocking access to certain websites at the Olympic Games media centre in Beijing. More than 20,000 foreign journalists are affected. The organization also condemns the cynicism of the Chinese authorities, who have yet again lied, and the IOC’s inability to prevent this situation because of its refusal to speak out for several years." RSF, 30 July 2008.
     Kai Ludwig translates and summarizes German newspaper interview with Deutsche Welle spokesman Berthold Stevens: "Deutsche Welle will not protest the blocking of its website in the Olympic press centre at Beijing. For a couple of years, DW has been working on getting a broadcasting licence in China. Thus it is in the interest of DW to get, in the long term, its feet on the Chinese TV market by way of further licences and cooperations. The website blocking is not a new situation and apparently just temporary, this happens time and again. DW offers internet and radio services for China, radio on shortwave because it is more difficult to block. Although individual TV productions are rebroadcast by Chinese stations in Guangdong, Hongkong and Taiwan [as in original], DW-TV as program in its entirety is not available in China." Deutscher Depeschendienst, 31 July 2008. This aspect not mentioned in DW's own story, 30 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.

McCain adviser sees RFE/RL as model for victory in Afghanistan.

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Re John McCain's "chief ideologue and foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann": "Take his position on Afghanistan. Scheunemann says 'this is by no means a military struggle.' Huh? We're not at war there? Nope, he says. Soft power will save the day (neocons are big fans of the effectiveness of American propaganda, never failing to mention how Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty won us the Cold War and how similar efforts can win over Muslim hearts and minds)." Lionel Beehner, Huffington Post, 30 July 2008. See previous post about Scheunemann.

CBC seeks Chinese Canadian "customers" through new website (updated).

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"CBC British Columbia is hoping to widen its customer base through a new website that provides the latest news in the Chinese language. The website, www.cbc.ca/bc/chinesenews, was launched Tuesday night in association with Radio Canada International and will provide CBC’s local, national and international news in simplified and traditional Chinese characters." Vancouver Sun, 23 July 2008. Update: "CBC has announced the addition of a daily online Olympic highlights package in Mandarin. Beginning Aug. 9, and continuing through to Aug. 24, four Web sites, including CBCSports.ca, will feature the daily Mandarin-language Olympic highlights package." National Post, 30 July 2008.

BBC Arabic adds SMS via mobile phones.

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The availability of the BBC's multimedia service for the Arab world has further expanded across the Middle East thanks to the launch of mobile-phone partnerships in the Palestinian territories, Oman and Jordan. In addition to the availability of BBC Arabic on television, radio and online, international news seekers in these territories can now access the BBC Arabic content via their mobile phones. Subscribers to Al Jawwal – the operator in the West Bank and Gaza – can now receive SMS messages with top news stories from BBC Arabic." BBC World Service press release, 31 July 2008.

Winning hearts and minds: Turkish soap popular among Arab viewers.

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"In Saudi Arabia, the only country with ratings, about three to four million people watch ["Noor"] daily, out of a population of nearly 28 million, according to MBC, the Saudi-owned satellite channel that airs the show dubbed into Arabic for Middle East audiences." AP, 28 July 2008. "And finally it has happened: Saudi Arabia’s leading cleric has condemned the soap opera as 'wicked' and 'malevolent'." The National (Abu Dhabi), 28 July 2008. Fatwa. AHN Media, 28 July 2008.

Is the Taliban winning the "war of words"?

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Canada, the United States and other countries with military forces in Afghanistan are losing a propaganda battle to a resurgent Taliban movement, a respected international think tank says. Taliban militants with their faces covered pose for invited photographers in Ghazni province, Afghanistan, earlier this month. The Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) said the Afghan insurgency's military capabilities are often overestimated, but a sophisticated multi-media propaganda campaign is projecting a Taliban movement that is increasingly confident of its ability to exploit opponents' weaknesses." CBC News, 25 July 2008. "Though the Taliban are understandably not easy to access, they provide ready updates on information and operations and their own claims. According to the ICG, the Taliban's rudimentary website is updated several times a day and the Taliban are able to put out their story rapidly, though its messages are sometimes contradictory." Aunohita Mojumdar, Asia Times, 26 July 2008. See also ICG press release, 24 July 2008 (with link to the report).

Will Telesur also ask that the hostages be returned to FARC? (updated)

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Telesur TV channel might file a lawsuit against the Colombian government, as many voices join rejection of the illegal use of the Telesur logo during Operation Jaque." [to rescue Ingrid Betancourt and others held captive by the FARC]. Prensa Latina, 27 July 2008. "Colombian Defense Minister Juan Manuel Santos said that his country will not apologize for the use of the logo of Venezuela-based television news organization Telesur, during the rescue of 15 hostages from members of the Colombian Revolutionary Armed Forces (FARC). 'To be honest, we did not believe that (the use of Telesur logo) was important. We did never think that this would cause any reaction.'" El Universal, 25 July 2008. " Jean-Francois Julliard, deputy director of the press advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders, said authorities can endanger journalists when they pose as members of the news media. 'We think it is a dangerous practice because it puts in danger real journalists,' he said." CNN, 24 July 2008. Update: "Impersonating journalists or human rights workers in Colombia endangers their colleagues on dangerous assignments around the world. 'It increases the risks, especially at a time when reporters in Iraq and Afghanistan are being kidnapped and accused of being spies,' said Joel Simon, CPJ's executive director. 'These tactics should only be used as an absolute last resort, as they endanger all journalists, particularly those working in conflict zones who rely on status as neutral observers to keep them safe.'" Committee to Protect Journalists, 30 July 2008. See also CPJ, 29 July 2008.

DRM tests in India.

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
All India Radio and the Asia Pacific Broadcasting Union reported to the International Telecommunications Union about Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) tests in India, during May, on medium wave, and on 3, 6, and 26 MHz shortwave. Results were generally good. Alokesh Gupta, RadioActivity, via 26MHz.us, 28 July 2008 (with link to the report).

Worldspace: death spiral financing? (updated)

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
In an SEC filing, Worldspace summarizes a meeting in which it promises to pay "4 'investors' an aggregate of $18.5m on July 25, which includes $15.2m of the principal. In return the investors have agreed to extend until September 15 the maturity date of the remaining amounts, and further will change the Sept 30 due date to Dec 31 2008 if Worldspace has paid in full by Sept 15 the amounts due on the loans. ... Quite what this means to Worldspace’s ongoing operations in Europe is difficult to fathom. Certainly its “partner” in Italy (Class Editori) and its 35% stake in the Italian operation needs clarification, as does the status of Worldspace Europe generally." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 27 July 2008. Worldspace "has pledged its European assets to the debt-holders." Rapid TV News, 24 July 2008. Full disclosure: I have a soft spot in my heart for corporations that try to make a go of audacious new technologies. As such, it would give me no joy to see Worldspace fail. It would, instead, give me joy to see Worldspace find its way out of its present fix. In a previous post, I floated the idea of Worldspace making its money not from from subscriber-listeners, but from from broadcasters leasing time on its channels. The result would be programming that few of us would want to listen to, but it might keep Worldspace in business. Update: "Worldspace must now find at least $52m by mid-September, as well as continue funding its day-to-day operations. It can anticipate $13m from Noah Samara’s Yenura – and will continue to attempt to raise more cash. But one has to wonder where the fresh money might come from." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 28 July 2008. Reader comments. Rapid TV News, 29 July 2008. Dave Kruger, CEO of competitor Onda Media: “I have nothing to say pejoratively against Worldspace in any way whatsoever. The people we are dealing with recognise the differences between us [and Worldspace] and they do not confuse us. What we don’t want to see happen is that the public gets confused.” Rapid TV News, 30 July 2008.

Case against RFI reporter in Niger thrown out, but prosecution appeals (updated).

Posted: 31 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"A senior judge in Niger has thrown out the case against a journalist working for French radio, detained for 10 months on suspicion of collaborating with Tuareg rebels, his lawyer said on Wednesday. It is the second time a judge has ordered the release of Moussa Kaka, who works for French state broadcaster Radio France International (RFI). He was arrested in September last year." Reuters, 23 July 2008. "Niger prosecutors again appealed Friday against a court order to free imprisoned Radio France correspondent in Niger Moussa Kaka, the prosecution service said." AFP, 25 July 2008. Update: "Niger's Court of Appeal is to rule next month whether to release jailed Radio France International correspondent Moussa Kaka, his legal team said Tuesday after a court hearing." AFP, 30 July 2008. Reporters sans frontieres "strongly condemns today’s decision by Niger’s public prosecutor to appeal against an investigating judge’s decision five days ago to dismiss the charges on which Radio Saraounia manager Moussa Kaka has been held since last September. The authorities would have had to free Kaka if the prosecutor had not filed his appeal." RSF, 28 July 2008.

Head of BBC Chinese disinvited from Olympics opening.

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"China's commitment to media freedom at the Olympics will again be called into question after an invitation to attend the opening ceremony was withdrawn from a senior BBC employee. Lorna Ball, head of BBC Chinese, had expected to be a guest of China Radio International (CRI), the state broadcaster, at the ceremony in Beijing on Friday week. It was interpreted as a sign that the mood of the authorities towards the World Service's Cantonese- and Mandarin-language arms might be thawing." The Guardian, 30 July 2008.

Meanwhile, will the Olympics websites keep up with demand?

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Back in 2000 the Sydney games generated an astonishing amount of traffic to Olympics websites, and in the last four years the number of net users has almost doubled from around 750 million to 1.4 billion. That is going to place a massive strain on the official Olympics website and the associated infrastructure, and it will be interesting to see how it stands up. Over the past few months we've seen a number of high-profile websites fail, including Amazon and Facebook, and just this week when Amazon's S3 service was offline for several hours because of too much 'gossiping' between servers - that's the official explanation, honest." Bill Thompson, BBC News, 29 July 2008.

From China: a lesson about internet-only international broadcasting.

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Internet censorship is nothing new to people logging on in China. The government blocks a number of sites it considers sensitive. It now appears that thousands of journalists arriving in Beijing to cover the Olympics will face a similar situation. At the Olympic Main Press Centre, situated next to the main sporting venues, websites that are off limits include news sites. The BBC's English-language website is available, but not the Chinese-language version, apparently 'Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage'. Other Chinese-language news websites that have been blocked include radio station Voice of America and Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily." BBC News, 30 July 2008.
     "Journalists connecting to the Internet at the Beijing International Media Center (BIMC) are discovering that despite promises of an open reporting environment, China is still blocking access to some Web sites." PCWorld, 30 July 2008.
     "China's Communist Party regime has put in place a reinvigorated internet censorship program blocking controversial websites for journalists at the Beijing Olympic Games while demanding that hotels implement an intrusive spyware program to monitor guests' internet use." Sydney Morning Herald, 31 July 2008.
     "'This type of censorship would have been unthinkable in Athens, but China seems to have more formalities,' said Mihai Mironica, a journalist with ProTV in Romania. 'If journalists cannot fully access the Internet here, it will definitely be a problem.'" Fox News, 30 July 2008.
     "The International Olympic Committee interceded Tuesday after journalists complained of Chinese censorship and low Internet speeds at the main Olympic press centre. Gilbert Felli, the committee's Olympic Games executive director, met with the organisers of the Beijing Olympic Games to discuss the issue, said Kevin Gosper, chairman of the committee's media commission." DPA, 30 July 2008.
     "IOC press chief Kevan Gosper said Wednesday that the Beijing Organizing Committee of the 2008 Olympic Games (BOCOG) will impose 'limitations on website access.' 'I also now understand that some IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games related,' he said." CTV.ca, 30 July 2008.
     "The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Wednesday denied knowing in advance of China's plans to restrict the internet for foreign media and said it was pushing for curbs to be lifted." AFP, 30 July 2008.
     Radio Free Asia president Libby Liu is among contributors to The Interesting Times China blog (www.i-Times.org), which examines "the worsening press freedom conditions in China as the Aug. 8 opening of the Beijing Olympic Games approaches." Editor & Publisher, 29 July 2008.

Proshchai Radiostantsiya Golos Ameriki: VOA Russian is now internet-only.

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America ... has ceased its on-air Russian-language radio broadcasts as of July 26. The broadcasts were stopped despite concerns expressed by U.S. lawmakers and human rights NGOs that freedom of speech remains restricted in Russia. In an apparent effort to limit negative publicity and possible embarrassment, neither VOA nor BBG issued any public statements in English prior to taking the programs off the air after more than sixty years of uninterrupted broadcasting. A one paragraph announcement on the VOA Russian language web site, posted on July 26, stated that as of next day VOA programming in Russian will be available only through the Internet." Ted Lipien, Blogger News Network, 29 July 2008.
     Sergei writes: "The closure of VoA's Russian radio service hasn't been reported widely in the Russian-language press. Estonian delfi.ee was the first to notice the event. Delfi's report was timely reprinted by famous Russian daily Izvestia [31 July 2008, in Russian]. The article is titled somewhat misleadingly The Voice of America Left Russia's Air. Instead of its Russian programming, VoA's AM affiliate in Moscow (810 kHz) now carries English instruction broadcasts. SW frequencies used by the VoA's Russian are off for now. Will they be picked up by R.Libery Russian?"
     Kai Ludwig writes: "So much for the promise to restore the funding of Russian broadcasts [by the Senate Appropriations Committee]. ... On Aug 1st the Russian service of Radio Liberty starts to use the transmitter hours of the now gone VOA broadcasts in Russian, mostly on the old frequencies. ... So the shortwave transmissions of Radio Liberty in Russian will not be curtailed but instead even expanded, at least for now (I would not rule out that it is just temporarily until they can cancel the airtime)."
     The last VOA Russian broadcasts, on Saturday, are available on this page for the next couple of days. Even if you do not have Russian, you can tell that that these are farewell programs.
     "Just after former Russian President Vladimir Putin anointed his political successor last December, the Web site of Russian opposition leader Carry Kasparov was hit by [denial of service] attacks for nearly two weeks." Foreign Policy, July/August 2008.
     See also ProPublica, 24 July 2008.

Death of Leonard Reed, retired VOA manager.

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"In 1965, Mr. Reed was placed in charge of English-language broadcasting for the VOA. Later, a dispute over the agency's reporting during the Vietnam War era led to Mr. Reed's removal by the then-head of the U.S. Information Agency. Mr. Reed was dismissed over the objections of the VOA's director at the time, John Charles Daly, a veteran journalist and television and radio personality, who resigned in protest. John Jacobs, a friend of more than 60 years who also worked with Mr. Reed, said the issue was whether the State Department would dictate the VOA's editorial policies. 'They decided we should parrot the administration line, but we were all newsmen, and there was always a big resistance to that,' Mr. Jacobs said. 'We wanted to do an honorable job, which is by far the best propaganda.'" Baltimore Sun, 28 July 2008. This is a reminder of why VOA employees fought for decades to separate VOA from USIA. This finally happened with legislation in the 1990s. Many of those who would like to restore USIA would also like, in the name of "coordination," to place U.S. international broadcasting back under that USIA. That would doom U.S. international broadcasting to, at best, a second rate status.

Even James "War of Ideas" Glassman does not like the term "war of ideas."

Posted: 30 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"On Friday at the New America Foundation, the Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy, James Glassman, spoke about America’s strategy in the so called ‘war of ideas’. ... Glassman’s speech took on an amused tone when he mentioned that he himself disliked the name ‘war of ideas’, despite his unofficial title as its ‘commander in chief’. He insisted that the name has connotations that imply a simple, two sided ‘us vs. them’ struggle. Instead, Glassman was adamant that the objective is not to get anyone to accept our own ideologies, but rather simply to have them reject ideologies that promote unprovoked violence." Jeffrey Asjes, Partnership for a Secure America, 27 July 2008. See also Daily Analysis, Council on Foreign Relations, 21 July 2008.
     "I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard [Glassman] use the word 'respect' for one of the core principles that should define reciprocal American interaction with people in the Middle East and Asia, because that is such a crucial and largely missing element in this domain. It will be important to see if this shift results in changes on the ground. The bad news is that major aspects of the US public diplomacy program remain very thin in relevance, credibility and efficacy." Rami G. Khouri, The Daily Star (Beirut), 26 July 2008.
     "Proponents of change are seeking to evolve US public diplomacy and humanitarian efforts into a more strategic and coordinated framework." Peter A Buxbaum, International Relations and Security Network, 28 July 2008.

CRI's Olympics web pages for Muslims.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"China Radio International has started a new program on its website that provides information about the Beijing Olympics and the capital for people in predominantly Muslim countries. ... It is the first of its kind to offer information in Indonesian, Malay, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Hausa and Pushtu." CRI, 27 July 2008.

Differences of opinion about NTDT via Eutelsat.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The only uncensored Chinese-language TV network broadcasting in China says its satellite company has shut down its signal because of pressure from the Chinese government. The satellite company, Paris-based Eutelsat, says the signal to China was cut because of a technical problem. But New Tang Dynasty Television, an independent station with offices in 70 U.S. cities, including Palo Alto, says Eutelsat cut its signal at the request of government officials in China." San Francisco Chronicle, 26 July 2008. "Eutelsat affirms that it holds absolutely no prejudice against channels broadcast by its satellites and notably NTDTV." Eutelsat press release, 25 July 2008. "In the view of Broadband TV News, NTDTV is seeking to make political capital out of a situation that was clearly out of anyone’s control." Broadband TV News, 28 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "Established in 2003, [Sound of Hope] started shortwave broadcasting that, beginning in 2007, reached the entire of China for 14 hours daily. It reports on the suffering of Chinese minorities, corruption of government officials, persecution of religions and campaigns against freedom of the press. ... SOH is seeking to break the communist regime’s blockade of free information through large-scale shortwave radio broadcasting directly to the Mainland Chinese population." Epoch Times, 26 July 2008.

Burlington Telecom and Al Jazeera sign a contract.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The City of Burlington’s municipal telecom company, Burlington Telecom, has reached a contractual agreement to continue carrying the Al Jazeera English channel. ... Consistent with the practice regarding all BT carriage agreements, terms of the contract with AJE were not disclosed." Burlington Free Press, 24 July 2008. See also Bill Aswad, BFP, 29 July 2008. And Leendert Huisman, letter to BFP, 28 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Maybe if there were a shopping channel on which you can buy small foreign countries.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"I've heard various theories as to why AJE is not getting the kind of traction in America that it's getting in Israel and Germany and other countries. There is, of course, the brand name, which is one of the best known and most respected media brands everywhere else in the world but here. There's the widespread belief among cable operators that global news is a non-starter for American TV viewers (which is why you don't have BBC World on your system either)." Aaron Barnhert, Kansas City Star, TV Barn, 24 July 2008.

Ted Koppel praises BBC, except when it's wrong.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Ted Koppel, now commentator on BBC World Service: "We were sitting on the apron of Saddam Hussein international airport with the first element of the Third and listening to the BBC taking at face value what the Iraqi military spokesman was saying, that the US forces were still 70 miles away, and ignoring claims by the American military. There seemed to be a tendency sometimes on the part of some elements of the BBC back then to want to disregard everything that US military was saying." ... "There are thousands of [BBC] reporters around the world. People who can actually bring us the news from distant places, what a concept! There has never been a time when there has been a greater need to know what is going on in Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Latin America, and Africa, where the BBC actually has [its own] reporters on the ground." The Independent, 28 July 2008.

BBC Arabic investigating an Arab nation.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC Arabic television investigative program, 'The Fact-Finding Commission' (Lajnat Taqqasi Al Haqqaeq) recently visited Kuwait to investigate the conditions of foreign workers, discover who is responsible for this situation and to ask Kuwaiti officials and other relevant parties some questions - as well as to investigate whether the workers themselves are contributing to their plight." Kuwait Times, 25 July 2008

La revedere to BBC Romanian.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Nothing tells you more about the upheavals in world politics than which languages the World Service broadcasts in and which ones it doesn’t - a decision ultimately taken by the Foreign Office, which pays for the World Service, rather than the BBC. Romanian is not the last Romance language beamed by Bush House, which still broadcasts French (to Africa), Portuguese (to Brazil) and Spanish (to Latin America). It is, however, the last language aimed at a country now belonging to the European Union - so in that sense, it marks the end of an era." The Sunday Times, 27 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.

As part of the new realities, World Service broadcasters will sleep on the sofas of their listeners.

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Two British trade unions have launched an online petition as part of their campaign to prevent the BBC from off-shoring jobs and programmes of the Hindi, Urdu and other languages to south Asia. The petition has been launched by the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and the Broadcasting Entertainment Cinematograph and Theatre Union (BECTU). ... Mike Gardner, Head of Media Relations at the BBC World Service, told PTI: ... 'The proposed redeployments of staff to India, Pakistan and Nepal recognise the new media realities in those countries. It has been BBC World Service's policy for its language services to be working closer to the audiences they serve for some time.'" Press Trust of India, 25 July 2008. See also NUJ "Save the World Service" page. See previous post about same subject.

BBC World will no longer sponsor this, or that? (updated and corrected)

Posted: 29 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC has said it will no longer accept sponsorship of its events, such as Sports Personality of the Year and Proms in the Park, after a report found its editorial integrity was compromised by a commercial tie-in. ... The new policy applies to licence-fee-funded services and the BBC World Service, and is likely to cost the BBC around £1.5m (US$3m) a year." C21Media.net. 21 July 2008. Does this pertain more to BBC World News, more than BBC World Service? The former sponsored several events outside the UK. Correction: If I had read the article more carefully, I would have seen that this is about BBC events that are sponsored, like Proms in the Park. It's not about the BBC's sponsorship of other events. Thanks to no less than Martin Buxton, writer of the story, and James Cridland, Head of Future Media & Technology, Audio & Music, BBC, for the clarification.

Or how about a private USIA?

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), along with a panel of foreign policy and communications experts, spoke at the Heritage Foundation about creating a new organization to facilitate international communication and diplomacy. Thornberry said that today’s post-Sept. 11 national security issues require government agencies to work together for solutions. In addition, he said that this communication is important for international diplomacy to solve global issues. Thornberry proposed the creation of a private organization much like the United States Information Agency (USIA) which was dissolved in 1999, to reach this goal." Talk Radio News Service, 22 July 2008. See also Heritage Foundation, 22 July 2008. All sorts of organizations can engage in international outreach for the good of the United States, but only the government can engage in public diplomacy.

FBIS memories.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Former editor of the Foreign Broadcast Information Service: "We did nothing very secret or anywhere near as glamorous as a James Bond escapade; all the programs – and the news agencies we watched – were out there, mostly in the short wave bands for anyone to access if they had the time, the equipment (a Zenith transoceanic radio worked very well) and the language skills needed to glean the information. In those Cold War days, listening to and translating news items into English from Radio Moscow and satellite states’ broadcasts from Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest, East Berlin, Sofia, Beijing, Pyongyang, Havana and, yes, even Tirana, proved invaluable to the agency, the White House and the rest of the intelligence community. President Kennedy learned that the Soviet naval vessels were being turned around and would not attempt to cross the Cuban blockade from a news 'flash' on Radio Moscow in 1962." David Hubler, Washington Technology, 22 July 2008. Andy Sennitt comments: "The broadcasts from Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Bucharest, East Berlin, Sofia and Tirana were actually listened to and translated by BBC monitors at Caversham. BBC Monitoring Service (as it then was) and FBIS had a cooperation agreement to minimise duplication of effort."

Worldspace, or 1worldspace, paid for "I am many; my world is 1."

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"1worldspace ... today unveiled '1worldspace' as its new corporate identity and brand, and launched a re-designed company website showcasing this new positioning. Developed by PIR Marketing to reflect the Company's mission and vision, the new 1worldspace brand and tagline--'I am many; my world is 1' -- celebrate the power of 1worldspace to bring together people from all over the world through the power of satellite communications and award-winning content." 1worldspace press release, 22 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.

House resolutions take aim at Middle Eastern television stations, and the satellites that relay them.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
H. Res. 1308, introduced by Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) "(1) condemns the broadcast of incitement to violence against Americans and the United States by media based in the Middle East; (2) urges governments throughout the Middle East, American allies, and other responsible nations to officially and publically repudiate purveyors of incitement to violence against Americans and the United States; and (3) calls on the President to-- (A) designate al-Aqsa TV as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT); (B) designate as SDGTs satellite providers that knowingly and willingly contract with entities designated as SDGTs to broadcast their channels for providing financial, material, or technological support to terrorist entities." It also mentions Iran's Press TV and that it "is transmitted via the satellite providers ArabSat, NileSat, AsiaSat, HotBird, HispaSat, IntelSat, and Galaxy, and is viewable in North America, South America, the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa." via Thomas. "Congressman Robert Wexler (D-FL), a senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs and a member of the Middle East and South Asia Subcommittee, praised the passage of House Resolution 1069, a resolution condemning Middle East media that incites violence against Americans and the United States and our ally Israel, in the House Foreign Affairs Committee." Rep. Wexler press release, 17 July 2008. Designating Arabsat and Nilesat as SDGTs could have remifications for Alhurra, distributed primarily by those two satellite services.

China: previously blocked websites accessible, for now.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Reports from Twitter pals around China are still coming in, but for at least many of us living here a huge litany of hitherto verboten sites are now accessible this morning. For me, at least, the list includes a number of controversial Chinese-language sites ordinarily off limits: Apple Daily, Boxun, Radio Free Asia’s simplified Chinese site even." Kaiser Kuo, Ogilvy China Digital Watch, 23 July 2008.

Victories all around in European elite survey.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"According to the 2007 European Media and Marketing Survey (EMS) survey, which polls the main income earner in Europe's top 20% of homes by income, Sky News increased its daily reach to 5.3% from 5% in 2006. ... On a monthly reach basis, however, CNN International was most popular with EMS Regular viewers, reaching 33.4%, compared to EuroNews' monthly reach of 31.4%." Brand Republic, 23 July 2008. "The survey of affluent adults shows BBC World News to be the only major international news channel to have grown year-on-year in the three main viewing measures - daily, weekly and monthly reach." BBC World News press release, 23 July 2008.

BBC's tri-media election bus begins its tour.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Global News today announces its US08 Election bus tour across America to report the build-up to the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, with coverage commencing on Wednesday, 10 September from LA. The initiative, which heads up extensive election programming, planned by the BBC’s international facing news division, will carry a tri-media team of journalists from BBC World Service radio and online (English Network and Language Services), BBC World News and BBC America television, including flagship news programme BBC World News America, and bbc.com/news." BBC World News press release, 22 July 2008.

BBC World Service: Quaecunque, subject to local restrictions.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"When the Nigerian government stopped local stations rebroadcasting foreign news programmes in 2004, the World Service lost 1.5 million listeners. When the same rule was imposed in India, the losses were far higher – around 12 million between 1995 and 2002 – and signalled a ‘dramatic drop in overall radio listening’, according to the BBC. FM listeners are the denizens of large cities. If they have access to a good shortwave radio, they can always fall back on the traditions of the rural areas (this is what happened in Nigeria), where shortwave is still the way to pick up the service. It would be a high-risk strategy to move production away from Bush House to local stations, even if it meant saving millions of pounds in overheads and salaries by paying programme makers at local rates. What if national broadcasting regulators in Country X decided some of the content was undesirable? The answer, possibly, is that it could be fed to Bush House and repackaged for shortwave broadcast while being kept off the local FM outlet. But it wouldn’t be long before a local station producing controversial shows for transmission from outside the country (and back into it) came under pressure." Jeremy Harding, London Review of Books, 31 July 2008 issue.

Al Jazeera English adds another non-English speaking country.

Posted: 23 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera Satellite Network has unveiled a new contract with TSF On Sat that takes the channel to over 3.2 million households across Spain on the Hispasat satellite network. ... Al Jazeera English programming will be broadcast on TSF's satellite platform and on digital terrestrial television services in Northern Spain and Southern France (including Barcelona, the whole Pyrennes and touristic Costa Brava area); on cable in all Spanish and French major cities and on the station's Internet channel." Al Jazeera English, 23 July 2008.

Death of Charles Z Wick, USIA director under Reagan, founder of Worldnet.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Wick, 90, died of natural causes Sunday at his home in Los Angeles, according to his son, Douglas. Wick was the longest-serving director of the USIA, manning the post from March 1981 to January 1989. During that time, he is credited with modernizing the agency with computer networks and doubling its budget. In 1983, he began WORLDNET, the first live global satellite television network designed to link Washington with U.S. embassies and posts overseas." Contra Costa Times, 22 July 2008. See also AP, 22 July 2008. And Washington Post, 23 July 2008. "'Telling about America means telling people about America's foreign policy,' he told the Washington Post in 1986. 'Right now that policy is set by Ronald Reagan, and if we're going to tell the story accurately, we have to make clear what President Reagan believes in and what his policies stand for.'" Los Angeles Times, 23 July 2008.

Alhurra covers Obama visit to Iraq, while Iraqi media give it a miss.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"During his brief visit to Iraq, Barack Obama has been greeted by busloads of Iraqi cameramen vying for shots of his arrivals and departures at meetings with government officials. But on government-sponsored Al Iraqiya television Monday, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee received second billing to Prime Minister Nouri Maliki's departure for Europe. Only Al Hurra, the U.S.-sponsored channel, led with the story." Los Angeles Times, 22 July 2008. See also Alhurra, 22 July 2008.

Washington Examiner comments about its reporter's payment from Alhurra.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
ProPublica reports about its response from Washington Examiner executive editor Stephen Smith about its journalist Bill Sammon receiving payment for an appearance on Alhurra. ProPublica, 21 July 2008. But what if a Washington Examiner reporter received a payment for an appearance on BBC, or the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, or the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, or Deutsche Welle, or Radio Netherlands, etc.? Can ProPublica demonstrate that these organizations are not autonomous because they are publicly funded? If not, can ProPublica tell us why Alhurra is government controlled, while the other broadcasting organizations are not? See previous post about same subject.

Public diplomacy by dint of fourth-grade textbooks.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The United States, of course, is not a Muslim nation, and Americans cannot by themselves orchestrate a meaningful Muslim response to Saudi extremism. But we do have a large Muslim population, we do have friends in the moderate Muslim world and we do have some money -- mostly wasted -- to spend on public diplomacy. We also have two presidential candidates who are arguing hard about the best way to combat terrorism, the best way to deploy guns and aid, the best uses of American military power. Here is a novel idea for both of them: Make sure that children in Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and in Islamic schools all around the world have decent fourth-grade textbooks. Help persuade the Muslim world to write and distribute them. It might save a lot of trouble a few years later on." Anne Applebaum, 22 July 2008.

America calling Iran, but not in Cold War fashion.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. debate about direct engagement is a relic of the cold war, when Russians had to trade illicit American jazz records and listen on earphones to Voice of America broadcasts in order to get Western ideas. In the digital age, thanks to cell phones, text messaging, Skype, YouTube and satellite TV broadcasts from the 'Tehrangeles' studios in Los Angeles, Iranians are well plugged in to American culture. Internet cafes are everywhere, and video conferencing puts American and Iranian students and faculty in routine conversation. As a university program director told me in Tehran, 'Dialogue takes place between Iranians and Americans whether anyone likes it or not.'" Brian T. Edwards, Chicago Tribune, 20 July 2008.

A Canadian artist's response to Al-Jazeera access restrictions in Canada.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"While at Carleton University in Ottawa recently, [London, Ontario-based artist Jamelie Hassan] discovered the university's art gallery shared a building with the School of Journalism. It was an 'a-ha' moment – Hassan had already created an installation piece using Arabic script, which she hopes will be exhibited at the gallery there. 'It resembles the script for Al-Jazeera [the all-news network based out of Qatar] but not really because it translates as 'shame on you' – shame in reference to the Canadian context.' Canadians are unable to access Al-Jazeera English – referred to as the CNN of the Arab world. There were so many restrictions put up by the CRTC, the network decided not to launch in this country." rabble.ca, 22 July 2008. "Al Jazeera: Was approved by the CRTC in 2004 as an optional cable and satellite offering, but on the condition that any carrier distributing it must edit out any instances of illegal hate speech. Cable companies declared that these restrictions would make it too expensive to carry Al Jazeera." Wikipedia CRTC entry.

North Korea was conspicuously absent.

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"In an event appropriately titled the 1st Japan-China-South Korea Editors' Seminar, 41 senior editors and journalists from Japan, China and South Korea, met in Seoul for the first of such a gathering. ... Jin Dong-guang, chief of Korean-language broadcasting at state-owned China Radio International (CRI), noted that due to growing competition with U.S. and European media, it was crucial for the three countries to strengthen their cooperation. 'Specifically,' reported Pressnet, 'Jin called for a system to share information among media in the three countries and to promote joint projects in newsgathering and content production, as well as in other fields.'" The Editors Weblog, 21 July 2008.

Memories of Ezra Pound, international broadcaster (updated).

Posted: 22 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ezra Pound, the genius poet and cultural iconoc[l]ast who shocked and disturbed Americans with his pro-Fascist broadcasts during World War II, paid a very private visit to Rutherford 50 years ago, staying at the 9 Ridge Road residence of his life-long friend, William Carlos Williams. ... No American could have been more disturbed by Pound’s broadcast rantings, against everyone from Franklin Roosevelt to the Jews, than Florence 'Floss' Williams, who reported being 'happy and relieved' when the Pounds left her home that hot June day in 1958. Seventeen years earlier, Flossie had raced home on a July morning to tell her husband that a Rutherford bank employee had listened to one of Pound’s broadcasts – via shortwave radio connection to Radio Rome. Between his innocuous musings and superlatives for the dictator, Benito Mussolini, Pound interjected, 'As my friend Doc Williams of New Jersey would say...' Floss feared for her husband. And Williams just grew more incensed with his old college chum." South Bergenite (New Jersey), 2 July 2008. Update: Also listen also to "The Trial of Ezra Pound," a documentary investigation BBC Radio 3 Sunday Feature, 20 July 2008. The audio should be available through 26 July.

"No nonsense news" on CNN and CNN International.

Posted: 21 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
“'Fareed Zakaria GPS' (GPS stands for 'Global Public Square') ... is, in effect, an international version of 'Meet The Press,' with prominent newsmakers answering his tough, well-researched questions. ... In an era in which Americans are demanding — and thus getting — less international news, Zakaria’s 'GPS' is an auspicious event indeed. Only 'BBC World News' has been offering this kind of responsible global perspective and news to U.S. view." Bill Mann, Press Democrat (Santa Rosa, CA), 20 July 2008.

The Chinese Dream vies with the American Dream.

Posted: 21 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Beijing has tried to build up its own soft power by sharing its development expertise while stressing its commitment to multilateralism and peaceful integration (in contrast to Washington's neo-liberalism, unilateralism and imperial urge). And it has used a battery of public diplomacy techniques -- from international TV stations to cultural institutes -- to promote a 'Chinese Dream' as an alternative to the American Dream. The Olympics is the most dramatic ad for this new China." Mark Leonard, The Spectator, 16 July 2008.

Catching up on the news of religious international broadcasters.

Posted: 21 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"HCJB Global is seeking a new president committed to the cause of Christ, with good communications, fundraising, and relational skills. Its three main goals for the future include engaging Sub-Saharan Africa with a combination of life-transforming media and healthcare, empowering radio stations around the world, and developing a mobilization center to equip Latin American missionaries to use media and healthcare in ministry." Mission Network News, 26 June 2008. Contrasts from earlier days of HCJB, which concentrated on shortwave.
     "The Internet is allowing something illegal into Portugal. And Trans World Radio is the organization getting it in there. John Summerville with TWR says, 'In Portugal, it is illegal to have a Christian radio station like we're accustomed to hearing in the U.S. If you have more than two hours of Christian broadcasting, then the government mandates a whole other set of rules for that radio station, and most radio stations aren't willing to go there.' However, Internet radio allows them to have a full-time Christian radio station without the rules." Mission Network News, 25 June 2008. Shortwave would have been used for that purpose in previous years.
     The Far East Broadcasting Company "is committing to distributing 20,000 radios to survivors (of China's May earthquake). Radios are a lifeline to emergency and health information and spiritual encouragement. More than 1,200 have already been given. Shortly after the disaster, FEBC began airing specially designed programs to help those in need. Programming included a disease prevention and control program hosted by an experienced medical doctor." Mission Network News, 23 June 2008. Shortwave radios? Would have to be. But how were these distributed in China?

Did CNN's African journalist of the year exercise "responsibility"? (updated)

Posted: 21 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Ghana's president John Agyekum Kufuor "said when a delegation from the CNN and multi choice paid a courtesy call on him at the Castle, Osu, on Friday. 'Freedom of expression, yes, but this must be balanced with more responsibility.' Mr Tony Maddox, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of CNN, International, led the delegation. They are in Accra for the CNN-multi choice African Journalist of the Year 2008 Award Ceremony to be held at the Banquet Hall on Saturday.'" Ghana News Agency, 18 July 2008. Update: "A Zimbabwean journalist has won the prestigious CNN-sponsored African Journalist of the year competition for an uncompromising documentary examining his troubled country's struggle against HIV-AIDS.Hopewell Rugoh-Chin'ono's 'Pain in My Heart' garnered him top prize at this year's CNN MultiChoice African Journalist 2008 Awards Ceremony after beating 1911 entries from a record 44 nations across the continent. ... CNN International's Managing Director Tony Maddox ... said the awards, now in their 13th year, had 'unearthed a wealth of voices from around Africa, each demonstrating a quality of journalism, and in some cases a resourcefulness and bravery in pursuing the story which has my deepest admiration.'" CNN, 21 July 2008.

SW Radio Africa: more frequencies than Harare can jam (updated).

Posted: 21 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Eight years ago, Jackson, a freelance journalist, launched an independent radio station in Harare; six days later, Mugabe shut it down. 'I realised independent radio just wasn't going to happen in Zimbabwe,' says Jackson. 'But the situation was deteriorating and it was extremely important that news got out.' Jackson came to Britain and, in December 2001, launched Short Wave Radio Africa. ... 'It's hard for people in the West to understand what it's like not to get any information,' Jackson says. ... The Zimbabwean government has jammed the station's main frequency almost constantly since 2005, forcing VT Communications, the British company that transmits content on the station's behalf, to find alternatives. 'The only way around this is to broadcast on more frequencies than the government can jam,' says Jackson." Metro.co.uk, 17 July 2008. OK, as long as the shortwave transmitters are available. Update: "Radio remains the best medium for communicating with people in Zimbabwe. People who don't have a television or a personal computer will generally either own a radio or have access to one – wind-up and solar-powered devices are popular. Shortwave is a powerful tool against dictators and despots – a signal can travel thousands of miles, so broadcasts can be transmitted into Zimbabwe from anywhere in the world." The Independemt, 21 July 2008.

Hey, if you'll buy the Nicky Butler Multigemstone Sterling Silver Square Ring on Home Shopping Network, you'll buy this: U.S. international broadcasting on U.S. cable.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) "is set to introduce a bill seeking to reorganize the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG), a congressional aide told Inside the Pentagon on condition of anonymity. ... Under the proposed legislation, the BBG may begin to negotiate licenses with American cable television systems to broadcast its programs in the United States, he explained. The legislation also 'consolidates overlapping bureaucracies' and appoints a director of international broadcasting instead of leaving the task to the board itself, the congressional aide said." InsideDefense.com, 18 July 2008.
     Consolidating overlapping bureaucracies makes sense, but little else in this strange story which, alas, to access, you must give up your billing details. We might want to wait for a second source, in any case.
     This is the Ileana Ros-Lehtinenn who thinks that U.S. international broadcasting should be for the purpose of advocating administration policies, and she scoffs at the notion of providing the straight news that is the reason most people tune to international broadcasts. (See previous post.)
     And what U.S. international broadcasting would U.S. cable television systems take? VOA has a 24-hour English television channel, sort of, consisting largely of acquired programs, many of which VOA would not contractually be allowed to transmit within the United States.
     The domestic dissemination prohibition, just one part of the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, is mainly a nuisance, because it's unenforceable and because it prevents U.S. shortwave listeners from receiving a VOA program schedule.
     But Ros-Lehtinen's legislation will put shivers up spines, reminding people of the thinking that led to the domestic dissemination exclusion in 1948. This attempt to eliminate it will probably enshrine it into perpetuity.
     If there is to be a rewrite of Smith-Mundt, it should once and for all disentangle U.S. public diplomacy and U.S. international broadcasting. The former explains and advocates U.S. policies, officially, on behalf of the U.S. Government, the only entity qualified to engage in U.S. public diplomacy. The latter provides the comprehensive, reliable, credible news that is lacking in its audience's home countries. To achieve the necessary credibility, U.S. international broadcasting must be independent. It must not be like Senators Smith and Mundt envisioned it.
     As for domestic dissemination, a Smith-Mundt rewrite should acknowledge the ability and the right of Americans to see what the U.S. public diplomacy and U.S. international broadcasting are transmitting to the world. But here, a distinction should be made between voluntary and involuntary means of doing this.
     If an American wants to go to a website, or write to the State Department to get a transcript, or purchase a video through the Government Printing Office, no problem. But if the U.S. government starts to promote its policies using channels on your cable system, or commercials inserted within your favorite television program, or on billboards visible during your morning commute, questions should be asked.
     It does happen: armed forces recruiting, Smokey Bear, your deposit insured by FDIC, etc. But administrations advocating their policy goals on your television, or on signs along the freeway? For a taste of that, visit Cuba. Oops, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen wouldn't like that very much.

RFA gets new equipment to help it compete with crosstown rival VOA.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Asia will install Axia Audio consoles and IP-Audio networking equipment as part of news studios at its Washington facility. ... The manufacturer said the project will encompass 35 studios." Radio World, 18 July 2008. Meanwhile, a few blocks away at VOA headquarters, many studios are idle as VOA drops language services or shifts to television. RFA has the stringers and news agency subscriptions for very good coverage of East Asia. VOA has the capability to cover world news (also of interest to East Asian audiences) and U.S. news. VOA has the television capabilities that RFA is lacking. RFA has some good shortwave transmitter leases, while VOA has choice medium wave transmitters and access to relays in Thailand and the Philippines. The situation screams for a merger.

Nelson Poynter and VOA's early history.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"During World War II [Nelson Poynter, founder of The Poynter Institute] held a number of government positions: He helped organize the Foreign Information Service, which started the Voice of America radio service, and in one of his last assignments worked for the Office of War Information's Bureau of Motion Pictures in Hollywood, Calif." Poynter Online, 17 July 2008.

Domestic DRM shortwave will be tested in Alaska (updated).

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
The Federal Communications Commission issued an Experimental Radio Service license to Digital Aurora Radio Technologies of Delta Junction, Alaska, "to determine the impact of high latitude HF ionospheric propagation on digital audio modulation using the Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) system; to determine the transmission power levels required to provide adequate signal for high reliability reception throughout Alaska; and to determine an antenna specification for delivery of the digital signal throughout Alaska." 26MHz.us, 15 July 2008. Update: "DRM could be used for military purposes in much the same way the British used the BBC’s shortwave services during World War II to transmit programming to occupied Europe and beam coded messages to agents operating behind enemy lines, radio analysts said. The company told FCC that its initial tests would be funded by and conducted for the Defense’s Joint Electromagnetic Technologies program, a classified operation whose mission is to develop technologies for use by special forces and intelligence units." Nextgov.com, 18 July 2008.

CNN's international news site (whatever that is) sees spike in demand for videos.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN's international news site has seen a 250% increase in traffic to its video reports in the past year, according to the company, reflecting an industry-wide surge in demand for video content. The US news broadcaster, which relaunched its international site in October last year, saw its biggest traffic spikes in May around its video reports of the cyclone in Myanmar and the earthquake in Sichuan. ... Max Raven, CNN International's senior vice-president of ad sales, said advertisers are interested in the geo-targeting possibilities of video online." The Guardian, 18 July 2008. Unsure if this refers to the website that pops up if you click "international" at the the top of www.cnn.com. Or the CNN International television website.

LiveStation users add channels -- with some reception difficulties.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"LiveStation, a Microsoft-backed Web TV venture, has added several viewer-selected channels to its news-centered lineup. ... Viewers have added 247 channels thus far by pasting in the URL of the stream on the LiveStation Web site. ... Depending on your location, however, you might not have access to all those stations. A version tested by AppScout in New York City had access to Al Jazeera in English, France 24 in English and French, and Russia Today in English. I added a few channels via livestation.com on Friday morning with mixed results. I easily connected to Bloomberg, Sky News, all the C-SPAN channels, and BBC Parliament. I was not able to connect to CNN, the Discovery Channel, CNBC, or BBC News 24 and instead received a notice that said, 'Signal unavailable. LiveStation is trying to reconnect.'" AppScout, 18 July 2008. The 247 channels include both video and audio, among them VOA New Now, VOA Chinese radio, and VOA Chinese video (which didn't work for me -- requires appointment viewing?).

Israel uses YouTube and voice messages to send a message.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Israel's government has posted a video on the website, YouTube, explaining to the Arab world its position on the freed Lebanese militant, Samir Qantar. Qantar, convicted of murdering three people, had been Lebanon's longest-held prisoner in Israel until Wednesday. His release, part of an exchange for the remains of two Israeli soldiers, was greeted with jubilation in Lebanon. But the video says in Arabic that for the rest of the civilised world Qantar is 'the most despicable of murderers'. ... Ofir Gendelman, deputy director of the Arab press and public affairs division in the Israeli foreign ministry ... said the clip was part of a new Israeli initiative to target the Arab world directly through the internet. 'The age of waiting for an interview with an Arab station is over," he told Yedioth Ahronoth. 'The aim is to create a dialogue through the channel's talkback mechanism.' Hezbollah's television station, al-Manar, is reporting that the Israelis are also sending voice messages to mobile phones in Lebanon, promising Israeli retaliation for any Hezbollah attack. The Lebanese minister for telecommunications has said he has ordered his staff to take all necessary steps to stop such a 'flagrant violation' of his country's sovereignty." BBC News, 17 July 2008. These new media apparently replace shortwave, dropped (except for Farsi) by Israel earlier this year. See previous post.

Australian international broadcasters finally welcome in Fiji.

Posted: 19 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"An Australian Broadcasting Corporation team that had visa applications to Fiji rejected arrived in country on Friday to film a program focussing on the Pacific. ABC director international relations Murray Green said they were gathering material for a new program called Pacific Pulse ... which airs on the Australian Network." Fiji Times, 14 July 2008. Actually, that's Australia Network, the international television channel of the ABC. See previous post about same subject.

Glassman's war of ideas.

Posted: 18 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Undersecretary for public diplomacy James K. Glassman "said the 'war of ideas' - a repugnant term reminiscent of another, the 'clash of civilisations' - is as important as military action against the 'global war on terror. ... What Glassman [seems] to miss is that this divisive approach will not eliminate the unpopularity of the Bush administration - not America - in the region." George Hishmeh, Gulf News, 17 July 2008.
     "The war of ideas is really a battle of alternatives, alternative visions, and our goal is to divert recruits from the violent extremist vision. Our role is as a facilitator of choice. We help build networks and movements, put tools in the hands of young people to make their own choices, rather than dictating those choices. ... We’ve already done a major reorganization both at State and the interagency to help in this overall effort, and I’ve listed five focal points of our programs: Muslim society, especially involving young people at the grassroots; Middle East elites who involve themselves in ideology and religious doctrine; foreign fighters who have poured into Iraq and Afghanistan; private sector expertise; and Iran." Glassman remarks at the Washington Foreign Press Center, America.gov, 16 July 2008. See previous post about Glassman.

With Secretary Rice in attendance, Secretary Gates says "slick PR" is not the solution.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"'The solution is not to be found in some slick PR campaign or by trying to out-propagandize Al Qaeda, but through the steady accumulation of actions and results that build trust and credibility over time,' [Defense Secretary Robert M.] Gates said. The remark seemed directed toward some of the Bush administration's public diplomacy efforts in the years after the Sept. 11 attacks." Los Angeles Times, 16 July 2008.
     "Countless people in foreign countries wandered into a United States Information Agency library, or heard from a visiting speaker and had their opinions about America transformed by learning about our history and culture and values. Others behind the Iron Curtain were inspired to resist by what they heard on Radio Free Europe and the Voice of America. In all, these non-military efforts – these tools of persuasion and inspiration – were indispensable to the outcome of the defining ideological struggle of the 20th century. I believe that they are just as indispensable in the 21st century – and maybe more so." Transcript of the Gates speech in Washington, Defense Department, 15 July 2008. RFE and VOA as "tools of persuasion and inspiration," leaving unsaid the main reason they were listened to: comprehensive, reliable news.

VOA website keeps down the downtime.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Survey by web site monitoring service provider Pingdom shows that the Voice of America website (voanews.com) has among the least downtime of major news sites -- only 51 minutes from January through June 2008, i.e. 99.98% uptime. Web Host Industry Review, 16 July 2008. See also Pingdom blog, 15 July 2008. This machine-based measurement means that outside users could access the sites, but not necessarily that the sites' editors could always update the sites in a timely manner.

Some good news about Alhurra dribbles out.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"For a three-year stint, beginning in 2004, [Anthony Ibrahim] had served as the color analyst for NBA broadcasts on the Arabic network Al-Hurra, a federally sponsored satellite channel that the Washington Post called the 'centerpiece of a U.S. government campaign to spread democracy in the Middle East.' Al-Hurra, which is based in Virginia and has been funded with $350 million of U.S. taxpayer money since '04, would use TNT video feeds of marquee NBA games, with Ibrahim serving, essentially, as its version of Doug Collins. That made Ibrahim a known voice to Iranian NBA fans such as [Arsalan] Kazemi." Luke Winn, SI.com, 15 July 2008. Arsalan Kazemi, the main topic of this story, is an Iranian prospect for U.S. college basketball teams. And, apparently, he understands Arabic.
     This SI.com story would be welcome positive coverage for Alhurra. For a look back at the recent reports about controversies at Alhurra, see Craig Hayden, USC Center on Public Diplomacy, 24 June 2008.

Senate committee restores funds for VOA, RFE/RL languages -- but not for Alhurra.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
For FY 2009, beginning 1 October 2008, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee "provides $693 million for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, an increase of $23 million above the FY08 enacted level and $6 million below the request. The bill provides funding for broadcasting in languages which the Administration proposed to eliminate in FY09, such as Russian, Kazak, Uzbek, Tibetan and the to the Balkans, where freedom of speech remains restricted and broadcasting is still necessary. The Committee does not provide funds for the expansion of Alhurra programming in Arabic." Senator Patrick Leahy press release, 17 July 2008. First fallout of the recent reports about Alhurra? None of the mentioned VOA and RFE/RL languages would have been eliminated, though they would have been reduced, such as dropping VOA Russian radio while keeping an internet presence. Will the House of Representatives go along with this restored money for U.S. international broadcasting? See previous post about same subject.

RFE/RL and BBC Romanian: closed too early?

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The recent announcement that RFE/RL's Romanian Service would be shut down after nearly 60 years on the air has prompted a debate over the role of the media in the country. Many credit the broadcasts of RFE/RL -- as well as the BBC, which also will conclude its Romanian broadcasts on July 31 -- with contributing to the fall of communism. Some fear the closures could not come at a worse time and will strip Romania's media landscape of the last remaining sources of objective, independent news reporting at a time when corruption and political intrigue are on the rise." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 15 July 2008. See previous posts about closure of RFE/RL Romanian and of BBC Romanian.

Memorial to slain U.S. international broadcasters.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) dedicated its memorial to journalists slain in the line of duty, honoring ten fallen broadcasters and reporters [who have worked for U.S. international broadcasting]. ... The memorial, placed in the main corridor of the Wilbur J. Cohen building in Washington, D.C. [the VOA headquarters], honors Leonid Karas, Abdulrachmann Fatalibey, Georgi Markov, Iskandar Khatloni, Abdul-Hussein Khazal, Ricardo de Mello, Ogulsapar Muradova, Khamail Muhsin Khalaf, Nazar Abdulwahid Al-Radhi, and Alisher Saipov." BBG press release, 16 July 2008. See also biographies of the slain journalists and transcripts of remarks by BBG members. And RFE/RL News, 16 July 2008.

Al Jazeera English adds two non-English speaking countries -- via internet based media.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Jazeera English has added 5m potential new viewing homes in Poland, but not on TV. AJE has been added to Onet.pl, described as Poland’s biggest online portal, and will be the service’s first live streamed international news channel." Rapid TV News, 15 July 2008. "Al Jazeera English, the English-language service of the popular Arabic satellite news channel, made its debut yesterday in Taiwan. The channel is now available through Chunghwa Telecom’s Multimedia-on-Demand (MOD) service, an Internet TV service offered by the state-controlled telecommunications giant that to date has almost 500,000 subscribers nationwide." Media Channel, 17 July 2008.

Buzz might as well try to fetch the broom of the Wicked Witch of the West.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Buzz Technologies Inc has released an upgraded version of the TV software featuring over 5000 channels, in more than 100 languages... . Buzz Sat TV - Featuring Bloomberg, BBC News, CNN International, ESPN, Fashion TV, NASA and YouTube! With 378 million TV households and 152 million cable TV households at the end of 2007, China is the world's largest TV market. Its cable TV industry generated 3.4bn in revenue in 2007 and is expected to grow at over seven per cent year-on-year to be worth Euro 4.8bn by 2012." Buzz Technologies, 16 July 2008. This strange Buzz press release, like previous strange Buzz press releases, associates its product with the Chinese television market, but doesn't say how -- or even if -- it would penetrate the Chinese television market.

Radio soap in Rwanda teaches health issues.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Mugeni and Muhire are known throughout Rwanda as the stars of a radio soap opera, Urunana (hand in hand). The stories of Mugeni and Muhire and other characters are being used to educate Rwandans on a number of health issues including contraception, Malaria, HIV testing, nutrition and the prevention of mother to child transmission of HIV. The programme airs twice a week on BBC World Service and Radio Rwanda and is listened to by approximately 74% of the nine million population." Jenny Holden, International Development Journalism Competition, The Guardian, 17 July 2008. See also The New Times (Kigali), 6 July 2008.

More BBC World Service (non-news) programming on the Indian FM dial.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World Service today confirmed that its programmes will be available on Vivek 90.4 FM, the first community radio station in Chandigarh, India. ... Vivek 90.4 FM is a community radio initiative at Vivek High School, Chandigarh, and has been on air since March 2007. ... The BBC is offering Vivek 90.4 FM the following programmes:" "Discovery," "Culture Shock," "Top of the Pops," "The Ticket," "One Planet," "Health Fact Files," "Charlie Gillett's World of Music," and "Science in Action." BBC World Service press release, 17 July 2008. No BBCWS newss, however, as news is not allowed on private (non-All India Radio) Indian FM stations. For BBC World Service news, there is still shortwave, for the time being. BBC World News is allowed on Indian DTH satellite television and cable television systems.

The deals that are made in post-shortwave international broadcasting (updated).

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"A cross selection of British MPs have accused the BBC of jeopardizing its editorial independence by entering into a pre-censorship agreement with the Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA). An Early Day Motion, raised by Respect leader George Galloway, said it was opposed to the outsourcing of BBC World Service jobs from the UK and was 'gravely concerned' at the arrangement the BBC entered into in a letter from its South Asian Business Development. The letter to PEMRA 'gives the Pakistan authority, an agency of a foreign state, prior clearance for all contents and programs transmitted on behalf of the World Service by local Pakistani stations," it said. The motion, supported by Liberal Democrat and Labor MPs, including Pakistan-born Mohammed Sarwar, pointed out that there was a commitment to editorial independence that is enshrined in the BBC's charter. But the arrangement with PEMRA 'jeopardizes that independence', it warned, while calling on the British government 'to withhold its approval for this and similar arrangements'." Pakistan Daily, 9 July 2008. See text of the early day motion. See previous post about the PEMRA controvery, and previous post about the same subject about BBCWS "offshoring" of jobs, separate issues addressed in the early day motion. -- Update: "'BBC World Service content, including what is re-broadcast by partners on FM frequencies, conforms only to BBC editorial values and guidelines,' said Foreign Office Minister Jim Murphy. 'BBC World Service has total editorial control over its programming whether that programming is broadcast directly by it on short wave or medium wave or via third party distribution arrangements,' Murphy said in a parliamentary reply published Tuesday." Mathaba News Network, 16 July 2008.

WorldSpace: when all else fails, rebrand (updated).

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
WorldSpace seems now to be "1worldspace." The www.worldspace.com website now bounces over to www.1worldspace.com, a redesigned site with a new logo and slogan: "I am many. my world is 1." The regional websites (India, Europe, Middle East) are still just "Worldspace."
     "Worldspace might well still pull a survival rabbit out of its hat. It has done so before. But more than flourishes of press releases it needs magically to drum up cash – lots of it, if the business is to survive and achieve a few of its European goals." Chris Forrester, Rapid TV News, 14 July 2008. "Satellite radio’s moment as a widely used platform never arrived. Terrestrial radio broadcasters in Europe, exceptions being the UK and Denmark, have found little consumer interest in moving from the FM band. The offering needs to be quite special for people to buy a new kind of receiver." Michael Hedges, followthemedia.com, 16 July 2008. See previous post about same subject. Update: Judith Prior, Worldspace’s SVP/corporate communications, responds to recent reports by Rapid TV News. Rapid TV News, 16 July 2008.

Telesur was impersonated in rescue of FARC hostages.

Posted: 17 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Months in the planning, the Colombian operation was designed to mimic a Venezuelan humanitarian mission that picked up six hostages freed by the guerrillas in January and February. Two army agents posted as TV journalists for the Caracas station Telesur." Houston Chronicle, 17 July 2007.
     "Colombia's Marxist FARC rebels have rejected peace talks with the government of President Alvaro Uribe, according to a letter shown on Venezuelan state television yesterday. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, known by their Spanish acronym FARC, instead demanded to meet with leftist Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, according to the letter broadcast on Telesur." AFP, 16 July 2008.

GAO investigates contracts for Radio/TV Marti relays via Florida stations.

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
The International Broadcasting Bureau's "'approach for awarding the Radio Mambi and TV Azteca contracts did not reflect sound business practices,' the report by the Congress' Government Accountability Office concluded. It urged greater oversight by the IBB of the contracting process. The report found the noncompetitive agreements with local stations Radio Mambi and TV Azteca were generally completed by mid-October of 2006, but that the IBB, which also oversees the Voice of American and Radio Free Europe [sic], did not notify its legal and contracting department until more than a month later — two days before the contract was to be signed. In responding to a draft of the report, IBB officials said they decided against publicly seeking competitive offers because they did not believe they would get satisfactory responses from other potential providers." AP, 16 July 2008. IBB is not the parent agency of RFE/RL, although it provides engineering and adminstrative services to RFE/RL. -- "The 30-page report is the first in a series of GAO reports on the operations of Radio and TV Marti, which beam commentary, entertainment and news to Cuba under the Office of Cuba Broadcasting, which is based in Miami. GAO released the report as part of an ongoing broader probe into the management and broadcasting practices of the controversial Radio and TV Marti services. GAO opened the probe in response to a formal request from Rep. William D. Delahunt, D-Mass., chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on international organizations, human rights and oversight." Miami Herald, 15 July 2008. Full report available at GAO, 11 July 2008.

News agencies cite RFA on Uighur executions (updated: RFA corrects).

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
New York Times uses Radio Free Asia as a news agency for its report about China's execution of two Uihers. New York Times, 12 July 2008. "China has executed two Uighurs and sentenced another 15 to jail for alleged terrorist links, the U.S. government-funded Radio Free Asia said in a report just days after Beijing warned of attacks aimed at the Olympics." Reuters, 12 July 2008. "China has executed two Uighurs and sentenced 15 others to prison in its Central Asian region of Xinjiang after a court convicted them of terrorism, US-based Radio Free Asia reported on Saturday." DPA, 12 July 2008. See also RFA, 11 July 2008. RFA is the only major international broadcaster with transmissions in the Uighur language.
     Update: "While most of the major news agencies remain rather conservative with reporting on the details, the RFA article claims that according to a woman who was at the public trial (allegedly, the community members were forced to attend), the sentenced and executed individuals were the scheming terrorists who were apprehended during the Akto daring raid of January 2007. The RFA articles as well as the bigger news companies name the two executed parties as Mukhtar Setiwaldi and Abduweli Imin. ... The two individuals who were singled out as ringleaders for the terrorism operation and summarily executed in November of 2007 were named Abduwali Yiming (阿不都外力·依明) and Muhataer Setiwalidi (穆合塔?·色提瓦力迪) - or, the Chinese transliterations of Abduweli Imin and Mukhtar Setiwaldi. ... My suspicions that the contradictions could be resolved by the possibility that RFA was simply wrong in its reporting turned out to be correct. The RFA article has now quietly updated its article to accommodate the discrepencies." The New Dominion, 14 July 2008. RFA "corrects and clarifies," RFA News, still dated 11 July 2008.

British psyop in Musa Qala, Afghanistan.

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The town bazaar falls strangely silent as the soldiers move through. Trading comes to a halt and the townspeople retreat under the canopies of their open-fronted shops. The stares are mainly hard and hostile, but the soldiers manage to juggle their security operation with an amiable show, waving and calling 'salaam alaikum' (may peace be with you) and handing out sweets to some of the children. Some do wave and smile back. Judging the 'atmospherics' of the bazaar is a key purpose of the patrol. Today the hostility was judged to be about normal, with some signs of improvement. Communicating with the Musa Qala people is difficult. Most have no basic literacy. Musa Qala FM has been set up to deliver news on Army activities and anti-Taliban messages. It is basically a propaganda machine, [British Army Captain Christian] Howard said, but is also one of a few tools available to reach out to the townspeople." The Herald (Glasgow), 13 July 2008.

EuroNews Arabic startup generates comment. Farsi next?

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The political climate in the region and specifically the European role in the Middle East is what led to the launching of this channel, however it should have learned from the mistakes of others. The Europeans are trying to enter the Arab world through the media. It does not work." Fadi Abu Sa’ada, Palestine News Network, 14 July 2008.
     "Arabic programming will be the same as for the seven other languages, served by the same images. They will include a news edition every 30 minutes, magazines on society, culture, sport, business and its famous No Comment section. Euronews wants to keep to its line of international news channel and thinks its competitors will be CNN and BBC more than Al-Jazeera or al-Arabiya." Rapid TV News, 13 July 2008.
     European Union external relations commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner says "the best way to improve the visibility of EU engagement is through a 'joint TV channel we pay for,' which she compared to CNN. She did not say whether Euronews was that channel, but expressed her satisfaction with the launch of the Arabic language service of Euronews. Services in Persian and Farsi [sic] are also under preparation, she added." EurActiv.com, 15 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.

Al Manar becomes more "regional."

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al Manar, which calls itself the 'Station of the Resistance,' began broadcasting in 1989. The Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah regards it as part of the 'psychological warfare' against Israel. But in addition to news and political programs, the channel broadcasts health and family programs, entertainment shows, educational programs for children and video clips glorifying the group's 'martyrs.' ... The U.S. State Department listed the station as a terrorist organization in 2004, when Al Manar was accused of anti-Semitism for airing a controversial series about the Jewish diaspora. It was banned in North America and other locations. But since 2005, Al Manar can be viewed anywhere in the world through its website, which is in Arabic and English, and where viewers from various regions post comments." Raed Rafei, Los Angeles Times, 13 July 2008.

Loss of Radio Australia shortwave facility recalled as a "mistake."

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Viewed from a Washington perch, the foreign policy performance of the Rudd Government in its first six months has been strong. ... To provide historical context, consider the early foreign policy performance of the Howard government, described by one sympathetic observer as 'nervous and uncertain'. In its first year, that government botched the race debate generated by Pauline Hanson, which caused many in our region to question our bona fides. ... Mistakes and distractions continued into the second year, with the downgrading of Radio Australia's coverage of South-East Asia." Michael Fullilove, Sydney Morning Herald, 14 July 2008. Refers to a site near Darwin, Radio Australia's largest shortwave facility until it was divested in 1997 by the Liberal-National coalition government of Prime Minister John Howard. It is now owned by religious broadcaster CVC.

Should BBC be funded like BBC World Service?

Posted: 16 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Former BBC director general Greg Dyke calls for an end to the UK's television licence fee, "arguing that it will be harder to collect with the growth of internet television. He says a government grant would save up to £200 million a year spent collecting licence fees, which he described as a 'desperately unfair tax'. ... The standard argument against funding the BBC through general taxation is that it would potentially compromise the political independence of the BBC. However, the BBC World Service is funded by a government grant and is generally recognised for its editorial impartiality." informitv, 12 July 2008. Switzerland might make people who watch television via broadband or mobile device pay that country's television license fee. followthemedia.com, 15 July 2008.

BBC World and the Building 7 consipiracy theories.

Posted: 15 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"One of the drawbacks of 24-hour rolling news is the over-reliance on presenters interviewing reporters in a fact vacuum. In The Conspiracy Files (BBC2) we learnt that the paranoid ravings of the 9/11 'Truth' movement are partly inspired by such an exchange between a BBC World presenter and the reporter Jane Standley. When word came through on that extraordinary September day that Tower 7 of the World Trade Centre had collapsed, the presenter in London asked Standley, in New York, 'What more can you tell us about the collapse?' Knowing nothing, she ad-libbed: 'Only what you already know.' In fact, the tower (not one of the Twin Towers) was still standing - despite concern for its stability - and didn't fall for another 27 minutes. So the Truthers concluded that the BBC was also part of the conspiracy to blow up the World Trade Centre, along with the American government, police, fire service and mass media. That's where you end up when speculation gets the edge on reporting: feeding the fantasies of the chronically deluded." Andrew Anthony, The Observer, 13 July 2008. See also BBC News, 4 July 2008.

On Chicago's FM dial: BBC's competition replaced by BBC.

Posted: 15 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"'Global Overnight,' a nightly compilation of news from radio services around the world, is the latest casualty of programming changes at Chicago Public Radio WBEZ-FM (91.5). Replacing the four-hour block at midnight will be 'BBC World Service.'" Chicago Sun-Times, 15 July 2008. "Global Overnight" is a compilation of English-language programs of international radio stations, via World Radio Network. Per previous post, stations heard were Channel Africa, China Radio International, Israel Radio, Radio Canada International, Radio Polonia, and Voice of Russia.

Those foreign stations on Rwanda's FM dial.

Posted: 15 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Lawmakers in the lower chamber are demanding that government comes up with a plan to develop government media with the aim of countering the influence that foreign media is having locally, RNA reports. In a session Tuesday in which Information Minister Louise Mushikiwabo had been summoned, several lawmakers wondered why government media was not able to compete for local audience with broadcasters such the BBC and VOA. At the heart of their concerns was to have the minister explain why people in large parts of Rwanda were not accessing local TV and Radio signal but were able to listen to foreign stations." Rwanda News Agency, 15 July 2008. BBC, VOA, DW, and RFI have full-time FM channels in Rwanda.

New Chinese jamming equipment for Zimbabwe?

Posted: 15 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"In order to boost its jamming operations against the UK based SW Radio Africa and Voice of America's Studio 7, the government recently received another shipment of the latest in radio wave jamming equipment from China. Landing records, shown to us at the Harare International Airport by port authorities, confirmed that the government received the equipment on May 17. The equipment was among several other items the Chinese delivered, including an assortment of sophisticated military surveillance hardware. Jamming of radio waves is accomplished by transmitting a strong signal on the same frequency as that used for broadcasting by the pirate radio stations. Both Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa have taken on to broadcasting on multiple frequencies in order to beat the jamming operation carried out by the CIO with the assistance of the Chinese attaches." Harare Tribune, 14 July 2008.

From shortwave to Blackberry.

Posted: 15 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The world definitely seems smaller. Until this trip I used to get my English language news by tuning my shortwave to the BBC World Service. Now, I am carrying a hand held Blackberry that allows me to access the Internet and its Web sites from almost anywhere." Rick Sallinger, KCNC-TV (Denver), 15 July 2008. The Blackberry is undeniably more convenient: 24-hour access to your favorite news source, and fewer reception problems. But on the day of the big crisis, shortwave will work. Will the Blackberry?

WorldSpace: no news is bad news? (updated)

Posted: 13 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Rapid TV News exists to report the news, but sometimes when nothing happens that can be newsworthy. Such is the case with Worldspace, which by July 9 should have repaid its bridging loan debt-holders more than $20m as part of a restructuring commitment issued on July 1. As at press time on July 10 no statement was forthcoming from the company." Rapid TV News, 10 July 2008. Update: "Sources within the company say senior staff have already forfeited at least two salary payments, and this coming Tuesday’s payroll will again evidently have problems.Another source says that CEO Noah Samara last week held an all-staff meeting, telling them: 'We just need funding and execution.' ... What are Worldspace’s assets? A couple of tired satellites and a partly-built ground-spare that needs cash spent on it to ready it for launch (and a launch/insurance bill to get it into orbit)." Rapid TV News, 13 July 2008.

Cliff May nominated to BBG.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
President Bush nominates Clifford D. May "to be a Member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors for a term expiring August 13, 2009, [replacing] Mark McKinnon." And withdraws its nomination of Mark McKinnon (see previous post) "for a term expiring August 13, 2009, vice Fayza Veronique Boulad Rodman, which was sent to the Senate on January 9, 2007." White House, 10 July 2008. "President George W. Bush has nominated Clifford D. May, president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, to serve on the Broadcasting Board of Governors for the remainder of a three-year term expiring August 13, 2009. 'In this very challenging period of history, it is vital that the United States communicate with audiences abroad clearly and creatively,' said May. 'I will be honored and privileged if I can assist with this mission.'" FDD press release, 11 July 2008. See also May's "Notes and Comments" at the FDD website. "If [the BBG's] mission was not originally intended to be a purveyor of propaganda, the Bush administration has seen to it that that is what it has become. Now President Bush has made his latest attempt to further mire the agency in disgrace by nominating Clifford May to the Board. May is a former Republican National Committee communications director and the President of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, whose list of directors and advisors reads like a who's who of neocon warmongers. He is an advocate of torture abroad, the suspension of civil liberties at home, and always the supremacy of America by virtue of its military might." Daily Kos, 12 July 2008.
     May is one of the people recommended for BBG membership by Senator Tom Coburn in his 4 April 2008 letter to National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. See previous post. May has experience as a journalist, but his recent work has been more in the line of polemics. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but the BBG's work is more in the line of journalism. If confirmed, May can try to compel U.S. international broadcasting to 1) report the news, or 2) send a message. It all depends on whether he wants U.S. international broadcasting 1) to have an audience, or 2) not.

RFE/RL Turkmen commentator freed from detention (updated).

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"RFE/RL commentator Sazak Durdymuradov has been released following two weeks of detention in Turkmenistan. The move came amid growing pressure on Turkmen authorities to release Durdymuradov from a remote psychiatric hospital known as the 'Turkmen Gulag.'" Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty News, 5 July 2008. "Sazak Durdymuradov, a frequent unpaid contributor to RFE/RL’s Turkmen Service, has said he intends to keep working for RFE/RL, despite enduring two harrowing weeks in detention because of his work." RFE/RL News, 8 July 2008. See previous post about same subject. Update: "A security officer warned him to 'go and tell the truth' about his treatment in detention, and not to 'slander' in his broadcasts, he said. Reports of Durdymuradov’s unlawful detention and alleged torture had outraged the international community, which called for his immediate release. CPJ attempted to interview Durdymuradov today, but was unable to get through to him." Committee to Protect Journalists, 11 July 2008.

Two recent tasks for U.S. public diplomacy.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"'I think it is a public diplomacy issue or challenge for the United States not to give over the debate to Chavez, Morales and Fidel Castro, allowing them to shape the reason or motivation why the [new Fourth Fleet] created,' [General Barry McCaffrey] explained. 'When obviously it has nothing to do with that.'" VOA News, 11 July 2008. "On July 7th the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in an Address before the Arab Ambassadors stated that his Government was looking at the necessity of terminating foreign presence on Iraqi land and restoring full sovereignty. The U.S. public diplomacy machinery began operating in full swing after the statement was released and has emerged with a self justifying explanation: the remarks of the Iraqi Prime Minister are reflective of the confidence in the stability and democratic progress of Iraq facilitated through the efforts of the Coalition Forces." Madhavi Bhasin, San Francisco Bay Area Independent Media Center, 11 July 2008.

Free WSJ subs: good public diplomacy?

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The visit of Warren Phillips, publisher and CEO of the Wall Street Journal, to Poland in 1960 illustrates how US Public Diplomacy, communicating directly with the people of other countries, could be practiced in a communist country. ... As customary for high-level visitors, Ambassador Jacob Beam gave a lunch for the WSJ’s Warren Phillips after which Beam and his senior staffers briefed Phillips on the political and economic situation in Poland. After the briefing, Phillips surprised us by asking 'Mr. Ambassador, what can the Wall Street Journal do for you?' Unprepared for such an offer, Beam turned to me, his Cultural Affairs Officer, and asked, 'Yale, what can the Wall Street Journal do for us?' Somehow, I came up with a novel idea. 'Mr. Phillips,' I said, 'Poland has 18 higher schools of economics, much like our business schools in the United States. Can you give each of them a six-month subscription to the Journal?' No problem, replied Phillips." Yale Richmond, Cultural Diplomacy News, 10 July 2008. This is back before "public diplomacy" was a term, at least in common use. And maybe not "public diplomacy," in any case, because presumably the content of the WSJ was independent of U.S. policy.

Election 2008: good public diplomacy?

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The U.S. has spent billions on public diplomacy..., but marketing works best when in alignment with changed facts. George W. Bush has helped with improvements in Iraq, diplomatic progress in the Mideast and particularly North Korea. But nothing has moved the world opinion needle more than Barack Obama's rise. John McCain's emergence on the Republican side of the ledger helps. He's a man of proven courage and integrity, a former prisoner of war who often stood for his own principles over party dogma. The Economist magazine's cover rightly labeled the two candidates, 'America at Its Best.'" Frederick Kempe, Bloomberg, 1 July 2008.

Music USA.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Recent reports have added Eminem, the Bee Gees and Neil Diamond to the roster reluctantly referred to by David Gray as 'Guantanamo Greatest Hits'. But what is it that makes one song more likely than another to be played on a maximum volume loop at terrorist suspects?" BBC News, 10 July 2008.

UK minister on public diplomacy: "genuine engagement, not propaganda."

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Jim Murphy, a UK foreign office minister ... has this week published a book looking in detail at how the UK can develop its public drive and help other states to do so. ... Mr Murphy refrains from criticising the US, but insists that when it comes to public diplomacy 'we need genuine engagement, not propaganda'. Second, Mr Murphy argues that governments must understand that 'an old-fashioned nation-branding approach to public diplomacy doesn’t change what foreigners think of your country'." Financial Times, 10 July 2008. See also BritainUSA, 10 July 2008. The entire "publication," a collection of essays, is available online at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office website. Uncertain if it is also available in print. See previous post about same subject.

MD of DW-TV: DW not part of German public diplomacy.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Christoph Lanz, "managing director of Deutsche Welle television since 2002, describes his mission as 'to show Germany to the rest of the world. My mission is not to show the Good Germany or the Bad Germany, my mission is to show Germany as it represents itself.' ... Mr. Lanz maintains that Deutsche Welle’s independent organisation means that it is not part of German 'public diplomacy'. 'There is no non-governmental public diplomacy. From my understanding, public diplomacy is always something to do with the government, otherwise it wouldn’t fulfill the purpose of diplomacy. There has to be a mission, there has to be a direction that someone decides on in order to make public diplomacy a successful tool.' He classifies Deutsche Welle rather as part of the 'non-governmental cultural diplomacy', 'because we’re reporting on cultural affairs' in the broadest sense." Cultural Diplomacy News, 11 July 2008. Mr. Lanz is correct in saying "there is no non-governmental public diplomacy." That is why the tendency expand the term "public diplomacy" to include non-governmental international outreach renders the term meaningless. Mr. Lanz is further correct that an international broadcasting entity cannot achieve the necessary credibility for success if it is considered a part of a country's public diplomacy effort, even if it is funded by the country's government.

EuroNews Arabic starts today.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Euronews television is launching an Arabic service today to tap into a larger audience, but faces competition from numerous Arabic-language news channels already established in Europe. ... Euronews initially launched an Arabic version in 1997, but it was cancelled two years later. The reasons behind the current expansion are not only to boost the number of viewers. 'For political reasons, nearly everyone in Brussels agreed it was important to have an information service that makes a link' between Europe and the Arab world." The Peninsula, 12 July 2008. "Euronews has recruited a dedicated team of 17 Arabic-speaking journalists for the launch of the Arabic language service on 12th July, 2008. ... With these two satellites in the Euronews stable, the channel is now available in 248 million households in 135 countries worldwide." Middle East Online, 12 July 2008. EuroNews interview with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal. EuroNews, 11 July 2008. Interview with Palestinian journalist Naela Khalil. EuroNews, 12 July 2008. In these two EuroNews stories, you can see how EuroNews works. There is no on-camera talent. Instead, there is one video stream, with separate audio streams in each of the channel's eight languages.

When using the internet might be as anonymous as listening to shortwave.

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"One of the internet’s best opportunity for users to remain anonymous is Tor, codeveloped by Roger Dingle. The product was not envisioned to be an anticensorship tool. Rather, Dingle’s group was originally funded by the U.S. Dept. of Defense and designed to allow users to travel the internet anonymously. It became popular with law enforcement officers setting up sting operations and corporate interests wishing to check out the competition without leaving tracks. However, a handful of news gathering organisations like Voice of America and Internews have also provided funding so that people to view their content from countries where it has been blocked." Global Voices, 10 July 2008.

Just when we thought the Aljazeera in Burlington story was over... (updated)

Posted: 12 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Defenders Council of Vermont, a small group that led the fight against Burlington Telecom's continuing to air the 24-hour news channel Al-Jazeera English, will mount a petition drive to place a referendum question on the Burlington ballot in the November general election. ... 'Should Burlington Telecom enter into a contract with Al-Jazeera English, provided reasonable and agreeable terms can be reached by Burlington Telecom management?'" Burlington Free Press, 3 July 2008. See previous post about same subject. Update: "Al Jazeera also has proven to be a serious competitor to public broadcast service channels in the United States by providing in depth reports about different parts of the United States. One episode of a program called 'Inside U.S.A' talked about gentrification in Harlem New York bringing attention to the plight of African Americas who are being uprooted from their homes and stores to make space for more well to do tenants from New York. Another episode of a program called 'Every Woman' focused on the plight of U.S. ex-servicewomen fighting for health care bureaucracy, unemployment, and high housing costs." Jalal Ghazi, New America Media, 11 July 2008. AJE's "Every Woman" is not to be confused with the "Everywoman" formerly on BBC World Service.

Cuts will affect seven VOA language services.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Voice of America plans to eliminate seven radio language services this year, reflecting the Bush administration's emphasis on outreach to the Muslim world. Among the cuts are the radio and TV broadcasts of the Russian service, along with radio broadcasts in Ukrainian, Serbian, Hindi, Macedonian, Bosnian and Georgian. ... Tish King, a spokeswoman for Voice of America, said ... Congress is on board with the cuts, which will be effective in September. Matthew Dennis, a spokesman for Rep. Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the appropriations subcommittee that oversees funding for the BBG, cautioned that the appropriations process for VOA funds hasn't been finalized." ProPublica, 9 July 2008. The mentioned VOA services, except Georgian, will continue with internet and/or television. Some VOA services previously slated for elimination or reduction are spared. I will post a complete and specific list as soon as I have it. See previous post about same subject.

Shortwave remains relevant in Cameroon.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Cameroonian authorities have lifted a ban on three private broadcasters summarily closed in connection with their critical coverage in February, but police are withholding equipment seized from one station, according to local journalists and news reports. Equinoxe Television, sister radio station Radio Equinoxe, and Magic FM were authorized to return to air on July 4 by Communications Minister Jean Pierre Biyiti bi Essam. However, police continued to hold the broadcasting equipment of Magic FM, a popular station and partner of international U.S. broadcaster Voice of America in the capital, Yaounde, Editor-in-Chief Roger Kiyeck told CPJ." Committee to Protect Journalists, 8 July 2008.

Slightly off topic, but we love the name.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Miami University will open the Voice of America Learning Center off Cox Road in January, but that might not be the end of its expansion into this fast-growing Butler County corridor. Miami owns 20 acres on the site, big enough to add as much as 8,000 square feet to the current 23,000, plus build up to four more buildings. While it has no current plans for new buildings, planners envision the possibility of a quadrangle between classroom structures, playing off the Georgian architecture at the main campus in Oxford. ... The center will conduct more than 75 classes per week. Those will include master’s level courses in education and undergraduate courses coordinated through Miami’s Hamilton and Middletown campuses. The university’s Corporate and Community Institute also will offer programs there. Miami’s Professional master’s in business administration program will open in West Chester in August 2009." Cincinnati Enquirer, 8 July 2008.
     "Voice of America Park in West Chester Twp. is scheduled to be the site of a free event that last year drew 3,500 spectators. The 2007 Concert at the Lake included the Hamilton-Fairfield Symphony Orchestra and West Chester Symphony Orchestra in a concert that culminated with Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and a pyrotechnic display by Rozzi's Famous Fireworks. Organizers of this year's concert said they hope it will follow the trend of other repeat events at the popular park. 'For that park, when you schedule something a second year in a row, the attendance typically doubles,' said HFSO conductor and CEO Paul John Stanbery." Hamilton (OH) Journal-News, 8 July 2008. This is the old VOA Bethany, Ohio, shortwave transmitting site, still a very active place, where event attendance doubles from year to year.

Condoleezza Rice visits RFE/RL.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"As a specialist on the old Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, I know that, for people behind the Iron Curtain, Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were their virtual passports out of tyranny and into freedom." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 8 July 2008 and links. -- Transcript of her remarks to RFE/RL. State Department, 8 July 2008. Transcript of Radio Farda interview with Secretary Rice. State Department, 8 July 2008.

Are we losing influence overseas because we think we can "sway a country's behavior"?

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"We are steadily losing our influence overseas, especially our ability to sway a country's behavior through cultural (i.e. blue jeans) or ideological (i.e. Radio Free Europe) means." Lionel Beehner, USA Today blog, 9 July 2008. Another U.S. commentator who does not understand the concept of international broadcasting (and who misuses "i.e."). Radio Free Europe did not have an audience because it fired salvos of pro-U.S., anti-communist ideology to its target audiences. It had an audience because it provided a news service that was more comprehensive, objective, and balanced that the news the target audiences were getting from their state-controlled domestic media.

RFA stories too good not to reproduce.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Influential North Koreans tried to bring McDonalds into the country, but the fast-food chain declined citing lack of profitability, Radio Free Asia reported Wednesday." Chosun.com, 10 July 2008. "Cambodia’s 'jungle girl,' who lived alone in the forest for 18 years after vanishing at age nine, has learned to dress herself, bathe, and laugh in the year-and-a-half since she returned to her family, but she remains unable to speak, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports." Salem-News.com, 9 July 2008.

FARC at the receiving end of Colombian psyop.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"'Hey, guerrillas!' says the booming voice in Spanish. 'This is Ingrid Betancourt. Those of you who can hear me, they respected the lives of your commanders and they'll respect yours if you demobilize.' The military operation is part of a psy-ops campaign to persuade the estimated 60 rebels who were guarding Betancourt, three American contractors and 11 other hostages to desert the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC -- the oldest and largest active insurgency in Latin America." Miami Herald, 8 July 2008.

Karen Hughes hired by Hillary Clinton strategist.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Here's the latest eye-popping item in the Only-in-Downtown- Washington Department: Karen Hughes, the onetime indispensable communications aide to President Bush, has been hired by Mark J. Penn, the onetime indispensable aide to President Bill Clinton and, more recently, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). Hughes, former undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, will join Burson-Marsteller, the public relations firm, as global vice chair." Washington Post, 10 July 2008. "Hughes, 51, started Wednesday at the firm's small office on Brazos Street in downtown Austin." Austin American-Statesman, 10 July 2008.

Look for your first issue of Problems of Terrorism.

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"James Glassman, a former journalist and media publisher who was giving his first public address since becoming the undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, acknowledged that opposition to America's foreign policy was one of the main reasons for the decline in America's image internationally. He also cited the government's failure to adequately explain those policies and the perception that the US doesn't listen to other nations' perspectives as driving the deterioration." Jerusalem Post, 8 July 2008. I thought Glassman's 30 June speech to the Council on Foreign Relations (previous post) was his first since becoming undersecretary for public diplomacy. In any case, the two speeches cover much the same ground. -- "We ourselves should not shrink from confidently opposing poisonous ideas -- even if they are rooted in a distorted and twisted interpretation of religious doctrine. To this end, we are working to develop the contemporary analogue to Problems of Communism, an important journal of the Cold War. The new journal will appear in both electronic and paper form and will also serve as a platform for conferences and discussions." Glassman to Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 8 July 2008. And like Problems of Communism, will Problems of Terrorism (probably won't be its actual title) be given Congressional approval for distribution within the United States? By the way, do listen to the audio file of the Q&A, which pops up after the audio of the speech. -- NB: James K. Glassman will be on CNN's Late Edition this Sunday, 13 July. National Journal The Hotline, 11 July 2008.

Is Iran using Photoshop to compensate for something?

Posted: 11 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"A photo on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Web site distributed Wednesday by Agence France-Presse showed four missiles launched simultaneously. That photo appeared on various Web sites Wednesday, including those of the New York Times and BBC News, and on the front pages of a number of newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times and the Chicago Tribune. The Associated Press and Reuters distributed similar photos, but they showed only three missiles." Al Kamen, Washington Post, 11 July 2008. Citing Little Green Footballs, 10 July 2008. Press TV uses the four-missile version. Press TV, 10 July 2008.

After Iranian missile tests, US and allies will fire back "intense public diplomacy campaign."

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Undersecretary of State William Burns "said the United States and the other nations are working on 'an intense public diplomacy campaign to explain what we're offering directly. ... We want the Iranian people to see clearly how serious we are about reconciliation and helping them to develop their full potential, but also who's responsible for Iran's isolation.'" Washington Post, 10 July 2008.
     Among RAND Corporation recommendations about U.S. strategy towards Iran: "-Pursue a more aggressive policy of public diplomacy by encouraging U.S. officials to provide interviews and commentary for Iranian media. -Tone down U.S. policy statements advocating regime change in Iran." RAND Corp. press release, 10 July 2008.
     "The State Department has refused to provide specific details on the nuances of [its Iran] democracy promotion project. The agency told lawmakers that the classified nature of the democracy promotion project serves to protect the identity of Iranian individuals and organizations that have received funding to promote a U.S. policy of regime change in Iran from being harassed or threatened by the Iranian government. Yet that is exactly what has happened to some Iranian dissidents—even those who have publicly denounced the program." The Public Record, 10 July 2008. Promoting democracy in secret seems incongruous. International broadcasting promotes democracy in Iran, without specifically promoting democracy, by reporting on the exercise of democracy in the free nations. It also covers contrasting political viewpoints inside Iran, which comes with the responsibility of determining which viewpoints are responsible and legitimate, and which are too radical for inclusion.

Iranian television station has Azerbaijani audience.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iran's state-run Sahar TV['s] efforts to broadcast to Azerbaijan in Azerbaijani often overpower domestic signals. They have even been said to reach as far as Baku, about 240 kilometers from the border. Much of Sahar's programming deals with religion, leading critics to suggest that the broadcasts are part of a wider effort to export the ideals of the Iranian Revolution. Some of those same detractors accuse Tehran of employing a 'soft power' assault to unduly influence the Azerbaijani public -- or even undermine indigenous culture or tradition." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 9 July 2008.

BBC World Service 2007/08 annual review: the competition may not enjoy reading it, but should.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
The global audience is down slightly, from 183 to 182 million, but up from 38 to 40 million in English. "The estimate for Africa and the Middle East was up three million to 86 million, with strong performances in Nigeria and Kenya. Asia Pacific audiences were down by 3.1 million to 79.1 million, a decline largely attributable to Bangladesh, where there had been a major and arguably unsustainable increase during the previous year's political unrest." Two more capital cities have BBC FM presence. BBCWS director Nigel Chapman's annual salary is £228,000. BBC World Service press release, 8 July 2008 and the report itself. The BBCWS annual report is, of course, recommended reading. Its lessons for competitors: 1) consolidation of international broadcasting resources under one brand, 2) a domestic broadcasting partner (the parent BBC), 3) credibility by way of journalistic independence, 4) audience and market research which is heeded and turned into action, and 5) an appropriate mix of media -- although BBCWS (due largely to Parliamentary authorizations) has been slow to move into television in languages other than English.
     From the 2007/08 annual review of the BBC Trust (the governing board of all BBC): "The Trust’s audiences and performance committee commissioned independent research into the BBC Afghanistan service, and into the English Language Core Service (ELCS) on radio. The Afghanistan service received overwhelmingly positive responses. It is the most trusted source of news, and one of the most popular radio services in the country. However, competition from other Afghan media, including television, is growing. The challenge is to remain distinctive and relevant at a time of great social, economic and political change. Our ELCS research was carried out in key markets among opinion formers– a priority audience for the World Service. We found that the ELCS is valued for distinctive journalism that complements other news sources. However our research revealed that while there is an appetite for ELCS news-related output there is low awareness of it. Management is working to address this problem." BBC Trust press release, 8 July 2008, and the report itself. I confess that I've never heard of "English Language Core Service." Is that the BBC World Service English we North Americans used to hear on our shortwave radios? See also this March 2008 study on BBCWS ELCS.

BBC Worldwide: international broadcasting that you pay for.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide has reported an 8.8% increase in year-on-year sales to £183.8m at its channels division, fuelled by improvements 'evenly spread' between UK and overseas markets. ... US revenues came predominantly from the BBC America. UK series such as Torchwood and Top Gear helped to double BBC America's ratings in the key 25 to 54 age group and add 7 million subscribers overall. ... Revenues from TV programmes to Europe were up 3.4% year on year to £116m and profits from the region grew 6.9% to £30.8m. Sales to the Americas were down to £69m from £78.2m the year before, but profits grew from £2.9m to £6.9m.
In the rest of the world, sales grew 6.9% year on year, with profit up 5.9% to £9m 'helped by the explosion of new video-on-demand customers'." The Guardian, 8 July 2008. See also BBC Worldwide press release, 8 July 2008. BBC Worldwide is the BBC's commercial subsidiary, with sales both the UK and abroad. It is not to be confused with BBC World Service or BBC World News, but BBC Worldwide does facilitate the international distribution of BBC programs and television channels, including BBC World News.

BBC America is BBC without the controversial bits.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Americans will soon get their first look at 'Skins,' a controversial British youth drama. First, however, some of the controversial bits will be trimmed off. 'The British shows are far edgier,' Garth Ancier, the head of the BBC America cable channel, told reporters Tuesday." Lansing State Journal, 9 July 2008.
     "You can always count on BBC America to class up the TV Critics Tour. Situated in between the flashy presentations of HBO and CNN and the numbing dumbness of the Game Show Network, the respected British broadcaster stands out as one of the few outposts of intelligence on the U.S. television landscape." Andrew Ryan, Globe and Mail, 8 July 2008.

BBC World Service: broadcasting less radio drama, holding more radio drama workshops.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The British Council and BBC World Service will jointly host a workshop to bring the art of writing drama for radio, to a wide range of Arab writers. ... The workshop, in English, will focus on why radio can be the most accessible and powerful way of telling your story. ... The purpose of the workshop is ... to find new voices for radio within the Arab world, to bring Arab stories to a wider audience and to alert writers to a number of outlets available to them for their work." The Peninsula, 9 July 2008.

Al-Jazeera, the edgy-question news channel.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"US officials know the importance of trying to shape America's image abroad. 'We will never say 'no' to their interview requests,' says David Foley, a spokesperson for the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. 'We see it as extremely important,' in part because it has an audience in the Middle East. Mr. Foley appears regularly on AJE and knows what to expect from their interviewers. 'They're much more personal and edgy in their questions' than American networks, he says, citing a recent exchange with AJE anchor Shihab Rattansi, who asked him: So, Mr. Foley, aren't you really impotent in the Middle East? 'That's not the sort of question you're going to get on CNN,' Foley says." Christian Science Monitor, 10 July 2008.

Al Jazeera English, all night in Fiji.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Customers of Fiji's newest television company, Mai TV will be able to see Arabic news service Al Jazeera International from tonight. Mai TV chief executive officer Richard Broadbridge said the company has secured free to air rights to Al Jazeera International to bring international news and current affairs. ... Al Jazeera International airs on Mai TV from 1030 p.m. to 11 a.m. daily [1030-2300 gmt], while German/English service Deutsche Welle will broadcast for only three hours daily." Fijilive website, via BBC Monitoring, via redOrbit, 9 July 2008.

Livestation now welcomes all channels.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Livestation viewers can now customise their watching experience by adding their own choice of channels. Livestation viewers can now add any TV, radio or even webcam streams to their Livestation account for easy access. ... 'For broadcasters, it will provide an excellent opportunity to assess viewer demand so that they can then respond as they see fit. We will then work with the broadcasters to maximise the new found opportunities.' ... Livestation channels currently include Al Jazeera, BBC World News, Bloomberg Television, EuroNews (English, French, Italian and Spanish), France 24, i>Tele, Russia Today and BBC World Service." broadcastbuyer, 9 July 2008. See also www.livestation.com.

TV5 Monde remains on DISH French bouquet.

Posted: 10 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The international French language broadcaster TV5 Monde says it has renewed its distribution contract with Echostar’s DISH Network for a period of five years. The channel is part of a French language bouquet that also includes Euronews, 3A Télésud, Trace TV and Eurochannel. The channel claims to be the most watched of all foreign language broadcasters in the US except for Spanish language broadcasts, beating all other European and Asian language services." Broadband TV News, 9 July 2008. The package costs 20 dollars per month. Radio France Internationale is also available, à la carte, for one dollar per month. -- "RFI apparently went back on Dish Network at the beginning of May, after being abruptly replaced with a lame French webcaster in late December. ... RFI remains available free-to-air in North America on C-band and Ku-band satellite frequencies." Mike Cooper, DX Listening Digest, 3 July 2008.

ProPublica's new salvo against Alhurra looks at its Baghdad bureau.

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"A close look at both the content and personnel suggests the problems in the Baghdad bureau and the effort to broadcast programming for Iraqis are as profound as those that afflict the rest of the network. For one thing, the bureau tilts heavily toward Iran, according to former employees, U.S. government officials and academics who have watched the programs. ... Deirdre Kline, spokeswoman for Alhurra, declined to respond to any questions about Alhurra's broadcasts to Iraq. ... U.S. government polling shows Alhurra is the No. 4 network in Iraq. But that ranking reveals nothing about the content, the behind-the-scenes battles and the financial problems that have plagued the Iraqi broadcast." Dafna Linzer, ProPublica, 8 July 2008. If Alhurra is number 4 in Iraq, they must be doing something right. If that something is demagoguing insalubrious factions, then changes should be made. But it should take more than a ProPublica investigation to walk away from such success.

RFE/RL's control of Radio Farda is finally, officially "wrested."

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) will consolidate the management of Radio Farda under Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) as of July 7, 2008. RFE/RL and the Voice of America (VOA) had jointly operated this Persian-language radio and Internet service since its inception in December 2002. The new structure is designed to streamline operations of Radio Farda, which will continue its broadcasts from Washington, DC and Prague. ... VOA will continue its management of the VOA Persian News Network" on TV, radio, and internet. BBG press release, 7 July 2008. Is this the official announcement catching up with this Wall Street Journal story on 29 December 2007?: "Radio Farda is the priority fix. [New RFE/RL president Jeffrey Gedmin] wrested full control over the station from Voice of America upon taking office, and put in new Iranian management. Next he looked at the programming."

"Fight Terror With YouTube" (updated)

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"When it comes to user-generated content and interactivity, Al Qaeda is now behind the curve. And the United States can help to keep it there by encouraging the growth of freer, more empowered online communities, especially in the Arab-Islamic world. ... Statements by Mr. bin Laden and his chief deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, that are posted to YouTube do draw comments aplenty. But the reactions, which range from praise to blanket condemnation, are a far cry from the invariably positive feedback Al Qaeda gets on moderated jihadist forums. And even Al Qaeda’s biggest YouTube hits attract at most a small fraction of the millions of views that clips of Arab pop stars rack up routinely. ... There is a simple lesson here: unfettered access to a free Internet is not merely a goal to which we should aspire on principle, but also a very practical means of countering Al Qaeda. As users increasingly make themselves heard, the ensuing chaos will not be to everyone’s liking, but it may shake the online edifice of Al Qaeda’s totalitarian ideology." RFE/RL senior analyst Daniel Kimmage, New York Times, 26 June 2008. Update: "Two studies by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty have looked at how al-Qaida and its affiliates have fared on interactive media. Sure, it's from Radio Free Europe, and we know from whence they come. But in a fascinating article in Wednesday's International Herald Tribune, one of the researchers, Daniel Kimmage, writing out of Baku, Azerbaijan, details some of the al-Qaida experience on YouTube. ... It seems simplistic to say the answer to the preachers of international terror lies in YouTube. But empowering the right of reply would be a good beginning." Robert Fox, The Guardian Comment is Free, 8 July 2008.

RFA author writes about Tibet.

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Review of the book China's Tibet? Autonomy or Assimilation: "Warren Smith, who writes for Radio Free Asia's Tibetan Service, is ... scrupulously fair, including complete policy statements from Beijing and the Dalai Lama's government-in-exile. The conflicting issues -- of China's claims on Tibet, and the Tibetans' wishes for more autonomy -- are plain." Jonathan Mirsky, Wall Street Journal, 8 July 2008. See also Rowman and Littlefield blurb.

Policy trumps nation "branding."

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Jack Leslie, chairman of Weber Shandwick, a public relations and communications firm: "Q: Can you tell me about the concept of 'Brand America' and how that might be changing? A: What is troubling ...is that since the end of the Cold War, we have cut back tremendously on spending for public diplomacy. And the reasoning was, you know, we won the war. So why would we need to spend anymore? But I think we're paying dearly for not having kept those programs up. This is partly a communications problem, but mostly a policy problem and we shouldn't mix the two. This happened in the early days after September 11 where there were a number of appointments made in the State Department, for example, of various marketers and the kind of belief was that if we get the right kind of marketer in there we could solve 'Brand America.' Well, I think this is naive. The fact is that there's a reason why we have difficulties around the world and we need to address those from a policy standpoint." CNNMoney.com, 7 July 2008. -- "For Brand America and Britain to shine , they will have to communicate how their values are beneficial for all of the world. ... Remember Radio Free Europe and the power of the ideas which it transmitted? Those who live without freedom in Burma, Zimbabwe or Iran find the courage from within themselves to fight for the liberty they see othr enjoying on tv and on the internet." Julie Meyer, City A.M. (London), 8 July 2008. RFE's listeners tuned in more for uncensored news than for "ideas.' However, the portrayals of the exercise of democracy, through the news and current affairs coverage of international broadcasters, is probably a powerful influence on audiences in undemocratic countries.

Disinformation on the large and small screens.

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Much of the anti-American disinformation that is eagerly consumed overseas comes not from governments but from Hollywood. A frequent theme in American-made movies is the threat posed by rogue agencies within the U.S. government or by predatory American corporations that seek world domination. In Hollywood’s jaundiced view, the root cause of terrorism and of many of the Middle East’s chronic problems can be traced back to U.S. foreign policy. ... To counter the many conspiracy theories propagated by hostile governments and movements for political purposes, or by Hollywood to make a buck, it is important that the United States develops a strong public diplomacy effort to explain U.S. foreign policy goals, programs, and decisions. This is particularly important regarding the war in Iraq and the broader war against terrorism, where there is considerable suspicion about U.S. motives." Jim Phillips via Heritage Foundation blog, 7 July 2008. -- "Easily accessible satellite television and Internet streaming video will broaden Muslim youths' perception that the West is anti-Islamic. U.S. public diplomacy cannot negate the impressions formed by real-time video from Palestine, Iraq, and Afghanistan that shows Muslims battling 'aggressive' Western forces and validating bin Laden’s claim that the West intends to destroy Islam." Sunita Paul, American Chronicle, 7 July 2008.

No big surprise: North Korea endorses new call for a new world information order.

Posted: 09 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) urged developing countries to enhance cooperation to establish a new international information and communication order, the official KCNA news agency reported Tuesday. ... The unnamed head accused 'hostile forces' of setting up media including the 'Radio Free Asia' in a bid to 'distort the reality in the DPRK and slander Korean-style socialism,' said the KCNA." Xinhua, 8 July 2008.
     "At the 7th Conference of Information Ministers of the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries held in Venezuela’s Margarita Island last week, more than 80 country delegations endorsed Venezuela’s proposal to create an alternative worldwide media network. The Margarita Declaration signed Friday lays out a working agenda for constructing a 'new international communicational order' that is meant to 'balance information and democratize the presence of the countries of the South in worldwide communication,' said the Venezuelan Minister of Communication and Information, Andrés Izarra, in his closing speech Friday." Venezuelanalysis.com, 6 July 2008. Did any delegation vote against it?
     "The Ministers opposed the use of the media as a tool for hostile propaganda against developing countries which are aimed at destabilising their Governments. They called for an immediate cessation of the radio electronic aggression against NAM Member Countries as it is an action contrary to the principles of international law. They reaffirmed that the radio electronic frequencies spectrum must be secured in favour of public interest and in accordance with the principle of legality. The Ministers expressed their support in particular to the decision of the latest International Conference on Radio Communications of the International Telecommunications Union on this subject." Isla Margarita Declaration on the Promotion of an Objective Voice from the South in the Face of the Current Trends in the Fields of Information and Communications, Non-Aligned Movement website. "Revitalize the functioning of BONAC, including its enlargement and serving as a NAM media network that acts as an instrument to enable the exchange of radio and TV programs among NAM members." Isla Margarita Program of Action, ibid. See previous post about same subject.

Internet radio hardware developer and content aggregator try a new position.

Posted: 08 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Torian Wireless, an Australian-based global innovator in the Internet radio industry, today announced a partnership with RadioTime, a developer of technology for finding and listening to more than 50,000 radio stations online, that positions RadioTime as Torian’s radio aggregation supplier. The agreement is a worldwide license and marketing deal, where RadioTime is the official provider behind Torian’s iRoamer free radio platform offerings. With the partnership, Torian has licensed RadioTime content as its radio listings aggregator for powering AM/FM radio access through its iRoamer Internet radio platform, offered to original equipment manufacturers (OEM). iRoamer provides a complete solution for manufacturers, who for the first time can offer a packaged Internet media solution into any consumer electronics product." Torian Wireless press release, 8 July 2008. Again, corporate-speak prevents full comprehension of what this is about. The www.radiotime.com website does have a large collection of internet radio streams, including many traditional international radio stations.

Ted Koppel, formerly of ABC, moves to BBC.

Posted: 08 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ted Koppel, one of the most respected and highly honored journalists in the U.S., will join the nightly newscast which airs on BBC America and BBC World News in an ongoing role as a contributing analyst. ... 'The BBC has worldwide capabilities that I can't think any American network matches. To the degree that our future in this country is dependent to any extent on what's happening in the rest of the world -- which you won't hear about a great deal on the American networks -- then the BBC can be very, very helpful.'" BBC America press release, 8 July 2008.

German PD commissioner: spin is now more difficult. Good.

Posted: 08 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Commissioner for Communication and Public Diplomacy of the German Foreign Office, Michael Zenner ... emphasizes ... that it is more difficult to play spin doctor today. On account of the increased openness of societies and access to repositories of information that come in almost as soon as the events themselves occur, the everyday person can and is impelled to verify information, which can effectively defend us against propaganda and manipulation." Cultural Diplomacy News, 8 July 2008.

(Not that many Americans can see it) Al-Jazeera will cover the Democratic convention.

Posted: 08 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Among the international broadcasters that will cover the Democratic National Convention in Denver is al-Jazeera, the Arab satellite news network based in Qatar. Al-Jazeera English (launched in 2006) and al-Jazeera Arabic, separate but collaborative networks, will send two dozen staffers each." Denver Post, 7 July 2008. Recall the Al-Jazeera logo controversy at the 2004 Republican convention. Washingtobn Post, 28 July 2008.

French police send Deutsche Welle video journalists back to Germany, or Belgium, or whatever.

Posted: 08 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"French police have prevented a German television team from shoot pictures at edge of the meeting of European Union interior ministers in Cannes, France, dpa reported. A Deutsche Welle team had wanted to film a small group of demonstrators, protesting the disputed immigration policy of the 27 European Union member states. Police held the team away from the scene of the protest until demonstrators were arrested and dispersed, Deutsche Welle correspondent Frank Hofmann said on Monday in Cannes." Trend News Agency, 8 July 2008. Xinhua describes DW as "Belgium based":
"A team from a Belgium-based public television channel, Deutsche Welle, which was filming the event, was on the other hand questioned briefly before being advised by the French to 'head back to Belgium.'" Xinhua, 8 July 2008.

BBG's Blaya: "credibility is paramount."

Posted: 07 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"By law, the mission of U.S. international broadcasting is journalistic -- not propagandistic. Pairing al-Hurra with al-Qaeda information operations, as The Post did, grossly distorts the channel's purpose. ... Credibility is paramount: As U.S. international broadcasting has learned through more than six decades of experience, if broadcasts cannot be trusted to tell the whole story, they will be ignored." Joaquin F. Blaya, member of Broadcasting Board of Governors, letter to the Washington Post, 7 July 2008. Responding to Post article cited in previous post.
     "First, why was Pro Publica using its philanthropic funding to, essentially, subsidize the cost of a segment for 60 Minutes, the most financially successful news show in the history of U.S. television? Second, how can Pro Publica be filling a grievous gap in the information available to the public when its story is duplicated simultaneously by [the Washington Post]?" Edward Wasserman, Miami Herald, 7 July 2008.

If you don't have live video, there is always "context."

Posted: 07 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Garth Ancier, president of BBC Worldwide America: "Clearly, we feel that BBC World News is an alternative to what you’re going to see on CNN or MSNBC. We really view the night before [the primaries] and the night after as more important. An American [viewer] is going to probably tune to CNN or MSNBC on the actual night because they’ve got the gizmos; they’ve got the giant staff. But if you want context, that’s not really what the American networks do best." Broadcasting & Cable, 7 July 2008.

Northern Marianas: Radio Australia is beneficiary of glitch.

Posted: 07 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
The Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands's "only public radio station came back on the air Friday afternoon after three weeks of technical problems. ... KRNM is also having an unrelated issue with its Internet streaming decoder, Pogue said. The glitch is preventing the station from receiving the bulk of its NPR and BBC programming. Some of the affected programs are NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and BBC news programs. Meantime, the station is airing more Radio Australia and alternative programs." Saipan Tribune, 8 July 2008.

Jesse Helms, 1921-2008: engineered demise of USIA.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Former Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), who died 4 July: "1998: Succeeds in campaign to reorganize the U.S. State Department; the Arms Control Disarmament Agency and U.S. Information Agency are abolished and their functions are folded into the State Department." Citizen-Times (Asheville NC), 4 July 2008. "It’s hard picking the worst thing Senator Helms ever did, but one that should rank in the top five — one that most people overlook — is his willful destruction of the United States Information Agency. Today, almost everyone recognizes that the United States is woefully unprepared to win over hearts and minds in the Arab world." Charles J. Brown, Undiplomatic, 4 July 2008. So if USIA still existed, the Arabs would love America? -- "But abolishing the USIA was not a one-man show. There was more to it than a choice by President Clinton, even if it was his desk where the buck ultimately stopped. There was the USAID director who had the guts to fight for his agency and the USIA director who did not." Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner, 5 July 2008. In 2001, Helms instigated a major controversy at the Voice of America, protesting that it gave "equal times for Hitler" when in included excerpts of an interview with Yasir al Serri, leader of the Egyptian Islamist group Gama'a Islamiyya. William Safire, New York Times, 20 September 2001. See also Kathryn S. Wenner, American Journalism Review, December 2001. Helms also compelled Radio Free Asia to be named "Radio Free Asia," saddling RFA with Cold War baggage. See previous post.

Some confusion about James K. Glassman's new hat and old hat.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
James K. Glassman "as of 2005, was an enthusiastic proponent of US public diplomacy actively endeavoring to 'influence' foreign publics - the 'opinions of mankind.' His department's own web site still quotes him as saying, 'The task ahead.... [is to] engage in the most important ideological contest of our time – a contest that we will win.' But when faced with the enormous difficulty of the task, we have the new Secretary declaring that, 'our mission is not to improve America's standing in the world.' So which is it? To influence or not to influence; to engage or not; to 'win' but 'not improve America's image?' Hopefully Mr. Glassman will help us untie the knot in the near future." Scott Harrop, "Just World News," 5 July 2008. To which Mr. Glassman replied: "The BBG, with networks like Alhurra, has a clear mandate from Congress, and it is NOT to boost America's poll ratings. It is, instead, to promote freedom and enhance understanding of the United States and its policies through the practice of professional, objective journalism. That is an enormously important mission, but it is limited. Public diplomacy's mission is broader: to understand, inform, engage, and influence foreign publics." ibid. On 4 June, James K. Glassman was confirmed as undersecretary of state for public diplomacy, thus relinquishing his role as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Those are two separate jobs, at times contradictory and adversarial. See "Put the News here and the Propaganda There".

Will he still think BBC World News is dull after it starts broadcasting from its new vibrant, flexible, bold, and creative studio?

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"It is only when travelling that you get a chance to really appreciate the poor quality of the BBC's international television offerings. Why does BBC World exist and why is it so unremittingly earnest and dull? What is the point of the 24-hour news channel, whatever it's called this week?" Alan Ruddock, The Observer, 6 July 2008.

BBC world services combine in new vibrant, flexible, bold, and creative studio.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
BBC World News is to begin broadcasting from a new studio at Television Centre on Monday. ... A 'more vibrant and flexible environment' with 'bolder visuals' will give a 'more creative on-screen look', the corporation said. Also on Monday, BBC World News is introducing a new hour-long programme, World News Today, fronted by Mishal Husain and targeting peak time in the Asia Pacific region." Digital Spy, 4 July 2008. "The BBC is to pool the news gathering teams from BBC World News television, online and BBC World Service radio and online into a centralised pool to create a multimedia international news operation. The central world news hub, as the BBC is dubbing it, will begin operating on July 7. ... 'Now our international news talent is in one location, we can further strengthen our output across TV, online and radio platforms.'" Brand Republic, 4 July 2008.

Death of BBC World Service correspondent Charles Wheeler.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"After the war he joined the BBC where he began working on the sub-editors' desk in the Latin American section of the World Service. His command of German saw him move to Berlin in 1950 as the BBC's German Service correspondent." BBC News, 4 July 2008. See also BBC News, 4 July 2008. "Like his contemporary in Washington, Alistair Cooke, Charles Wheeler became a recognised authority on North America. Also like Cooke, he was an old-style journalist, and inclined to champion traditional values over new ways of working. It earned him a description from a former colleague as 'cantankerous, Luddite, and Napoleonic'. He admitted to the cantankerousness, saying it was largely due to the pressure to appear before the camera when he would rather stay anonymous as a voice-over." BBC On This Day website. See also From Our Own Correspondent, BBC, 4 July 2008.

Al-Jazeera English and the U.S. cable television information order.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Although the US government doesn't prevent access to the channel, many cable companies are reluctant to carry it... Subsequently, the channel has remained largely unavailable in the United States. In order to access the channel from most places within the country, Americans must pay upwards of $45 per month in addition to their usual subscription fee (on the DishTV network) - prohibitively expensive for many." Jillian Yirk, Global Voices, 5 July 2008.

The new New World Information Order movement invokes the role of Nyerere in the old New World Information Order movement.

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Venezuela President Hugo Chavez has declared here that the report by a commission chaired by the Late Mwalimu Nyerere on cooperation among developing countries was still valid - and that it now needs a plan of action for its implementation. Chavez is one of the most radical leaders in the developing countries. He told ministers of information from 73 member countries of the nonaligned movement (NAM) meeting here to revive the cold-war era agenda of a new information and communications order, saying he was personally inspired by Mwalimu Nyerere's ideas and principles." Daily News (Dar es Salaam), 4 July 2008.
     Tanzanian information minister George Mkuchika "pledged that Tanzania would offer expertise in Kiswahili to a TV network to promote objective coverage of developing countries. The network – Telesur – is based in Caracas but Venezuela President Chavez said in his speech at the opening of the meeting that it would be more effective if regional centres were opened." Daily News, 6 July 2008.
     The NAM Final Declaration "rejects blockades and unilateral and coercive measures like those against Cuba that impede countries and peoples from enjoying their proper right to information. Cuba has suffered the restrictions of a blockade to develop communications and connection to the internet and access to undersea communications cables and technologies in power of US companies. The document, he added, rejects illegal radio and TV broadcasts that violate international laws, like those forced on Cuba and other NAM members." Prensa Latina, 5 July 2008.
     "Representing journalists from the province of Santiago de Cuba, Abisinia Fernandez, proposed Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for the National Jose Marti Award for Journalism, for his role in the founding of the Telesur station and the Alo Presidente television program" Cuban News Agency, 5 July 2008.
     "Iran calls for the establishment of an international news network, saying the world needs an alternative to the mainstream media. 'World powers, especially America, now have a stranglehold on world media; they direct news and provide information to push their own interests,' said Iranian Deputy Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance for Press Affairs Ali-Reza Malekian. 'They refrain from publishing certain information about developing countries and sometimes propagate fabricated news,' he told a conference of Non-Aligned Movement communication ministers in Venezuela." Press TV, 4 July 2008. See previous post about same subject. For information about the old New World Information Order debate, that I studied in graduate school 33 years ago, start with this Wikipedia article.

Falun Gong related station off of Eutelsat (updated).

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"New Tang Dynasty Television (NTDTV)'s broadcasts into Asia have been disrupted since June 16, 2008, with some fearing that it is an extension of the Chinese Communist Party's media censorship. ... The satellite provider, EutelSat, told the New York-headquartered station that their W5 satellite unexpectedly stopped because of a 'technical anomaly,' and that they did not know when it could be repaired." The Epoch Times, 30 June 2008. Updated: Eutelsat CEO Giuliano Berretta "has not resumed the broadcast for ambiguous technical reasons, indicating that no other transmitter is available. He has not explained why he shut off all transmitters to Asia except the Voice of America, and why the first transmitter being resumed is not for NTDTV. It makes people wonder whether there are some other reasons behind the scenes, and whether Mr. Berretta will resume the NTDTV broadcast even if W5 resumes full power. ... It's not wrong that Eutelsat wants to expand its business. However, we sincerely ask Eutelsat to consider how much of a future will be achieved by cooperating with the CCP, thereby sacrificing innate principles and the only window for the Chinese people to receive uncensored information?" New Tang Dynasty Television via Epoch Times, 4 July 2008.

A timely spotlight on SW Radio Africa (updated).

Posted: 06 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"It's a constant battle, but exiled Zimbabweans are fighting to ensure SW Radio Africa's programmes reach their compatriots back in Africa. Station manager Gerry Jackson started the station in Harare in 2000, but it was quickly shut down by the government. Since then she and her team have struggled on in the UK against attempts to block the transmission." Sky News, 2 July 2008. Update: See also This is Local London, 5 July 2008.

New Burmese industry: modifying shortwave radios to eliminate the shortwave.

Posted: 05 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Relief supplies provided for Burma’s cyclone victims from China included 2000 radios. They were handed over to the junta authorities. Low-ranking officials were in a difficult situation when they received those cheap radios because they were not sure if they should give them to refugees or hold them back, so they asked their superiors what to do. The information about the radios pushed high-ranking officials into a tight corner. They seemed to be worried about affecting the relationship with China if they did not give the radios out. On the other hand, if they distributed the radios, the 2000 people who received them would be able to listen to foreign broadcasting services such as BBC, VOA, DVB and RFA, which they did not want their citizens to be able to access. Finally, an order came through that radios should be distributed to cyclone victims only after they had been adapted so that they could not be used to listen to foreign broadcasting services. As a consequence, engineers and officials at the Communication Department faced a heavy workload. They had to remove the short wave tuning system used by foreign broadcasting services to air their programmes from each radio. Engineers working for the Communication Department in Rangoon Division spent a lot of time on these radios worth US$ 5 each." Democratic Voice of Burma, 4 July 2008.

Air conditioning as public diplomacy.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"In a recent study by Terror Free Tomorrow and the New America Foundation, more than half of Pakistanis said the United States was to blame for violence inside the country today, as compared to only 8 percent blaming al Qaeda. This is a perception gap of enormous proportions, and a similarly epic public-diplomacy failure. [Pakistani Ambassador to Washington Husain] Haqqani's perceptive words regarding this public-diplomacy failure are worth recounting. He recounted youthful years studying inside an air-conditioned American library - this was the Cold War era - at a time when even well-to-do Pakistani families had few similarly attractive options (and exceedingly rare air conditioning). Where are public-diplomacy efforts today? The sorry truth is that they have failed in Pakistan just as they have in most Muslim-majority countries." Editorial, Washington Post, 2 July 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "H.R. 2553 would authorize the Department of State to establish and maintain libraries and resource centers at or connected with U.S. diplomatic missions. It would require the Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy to report to the Congress on the functions and effectiveness of the libraries and resource centers. The department also would be required to show American films to promote American culture, society, history, and values." Congressional Budget office, 2 July 2008 (pdf).

Remembering deceased VOA/IBB employees.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"C. Evans Hays, 62, a broadcast journalist and senior news editor with the Voice of America who retired in 2003, died June 20 at Baptist Hospital of Miami of a cerebral hemorrhage. Mr. Hays worked for Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty in Munich before joining VOA in the late 1980s. He headed VOA's Bonn, Germany, bureau for several years and covered stories including German reunification and the Balkans wars." Washington Post, 1 July 2008.
     "Marion Rhodes Hales, 65, of Fairfax, Va., died Thursday, June 19, 2008, at Inova Fairfax Hospital. ... Marion first worked with ITT Telecommunications Corporation and since 1981 has worked as an electrical engineer with Voice of America." Goldsboro (NC) News-Argus, 22 June 2008.
     The Eugene K. Harr Theatre at the new arts center on Mountain View Street, Petersburg, West Virginia, is so named "because of his extraordinary gift to the Grant County Library through his estate. ... From [1988] until his retirement in 1999, he was a budget officer for the U.S. Information Agency, now known as International Broadcasting Bureau in Washington, D.C." Grant County Press, 3 July 2008.

"Family oriented alternative to YouTube" includes content from Press TV.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"While cable and dish services are swamped with religious channels, Muslims in the United States have unequal opportunities for access. MuslimChannels addresses this challenge with a unique approach, by offering the best of both worlds: Multiple live 24 x 7 broadcasts of religious, alternative news, and educational programming, as well as user video uploads, video sharing and formation of online communities." Press release, 3 July 2008 of www.MuslimChannels.tv "For Buddhists, who spend their day in pointless irrational rituals, life is always dark and stagnant." "The Error of Buddhism" at www.MuslimChannels.tv. -- In international broadcasting, Buddhism also has Christian detractors: "Unfortunately, Cambodia is a nation gripped by Buddhist traditions, woven into the fabric of people's lives for centuries." Far East Broadcasting Company, 7 February 2008. -- "Stephanie Khan, communication director of MuslimChannels ... claims that the exclusion of 'sexual' or 'hate' videos will make the site a haven for 'clean entertainment'." Social Media portal, 4 July 2008.

BBC faulted for its headlining of the Jerusalem bulldozer terrorist attack.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Even though a BBC reporter witnessed the recent bulldozer attack perpetrated by a Palestinian terrorist upon the citizens of Jerusalem, it's website chose to lead with 'Israel Bulldozer Driver Shot Dead'. ... Not to be outdone by its sister in the media, BBC World television coverage lead with the headline: 'Breaking News: Israel Attack: Jerusalem bulldozer driver shot dead by security'." digitaljournal.com, 3 July 2008. "While BBC Online currently covers the story 'Bulldozer rampage hits Jerusalem,' this was not the original headline. Offering a glimpse into the BBC's warped journalism, the initial headline read 'Israel bulldozer driver shot dead'." HonestReporting, 2 July 2008. See also BBC News, 2 July 2008. "The BBC has said it was wrong for its News at 10 programme to show the killing of a man who drove a bulldozer into a bus and several cars in Israel." BBC News, 4 July 2008.

In anticipation of BBC Persian television, Iranian commentator suggests the elimination of censorship.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"It has been reported that the Persian programme of the BBC television network will start its work in the near future. With the start of the activities of that network, another Persian language channel will be added to many networks that are already operating from abroad. ... BBC Radio is one of those networks, which seems to have the largest audience from that point of view. It is probable that when the new [BBC] television channel starts to broadcast, its influence would be even greater than that of the BBC Radio. The German Voice [Deutsche Welle], the French Radio and ... [Ellipses as published] also belong to the same category, but none of them has the same level of influence as the BBC has. ... The increase in the number of Persian language media broadcasting from abroad can be regarded as an opportunity for our country only if, on the one hand, our national media (including both the radio and television) is able to deal with the current affairs of the country without censorship, and if they can provide a platform for different viewpoints and can provide news and analysis in such a way that it would satisfy the needs of the society; and, on the other hand, alongside the national media, there are other permitted [presumably private] media and press that can publish and broadcast domestic and foreign reports without censorship." Azar Mansuri, Iranian newspaper E'temad website, via redOrbit, 3 July 2008.

BBC co-production looks at history of Beijing.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC will this month begin airing 'Beijing: Biography of an Imperial Capital,' the second factual skein it has co-produced with a Chinese broadcaster. ... It was made over an 18 month period as a co-venture between Beijing Television and Singapore's The Right Angle. It runs as a three-parter for the BBC and in 12 episodes for Beijing TV. ... Like most other foreign broadcasters, the BBC does not have 'landing rights' in China. Its World News net can only be viewed in China's top hotels and foreigner compounds and its website is blocked by country's Internet regulators, often referred to as 'the Great Firewall of China.'" Variety, 3 July 2008. So, unless I'm missing something, actually not a "Chinese broadcaster" but a Singaporean production company.

Instead of "bigger brains," CNN will have to settle for bigger audiences and bigger revenues.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC World News America is kicking the tires on its own election 2008 bus... The Washington, D.C.-based newscast will deploy its bus in the weeks between the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in late August and early September, respectively, and the election in November. ... The bus (no, it will not be a London double-decker) 'offers an opportunity to cover issues; to get the mood of America and the sense of how Americans feel about their place in the world,' said Rome Hartman, executive producer of BBC World News America. Correspondents will contribute regular bus blogs, while also servicing the BBC World Service radio network. Hartman conceded that the BBC World News bus may not have the high-tech gadgetry of, say, the CNN Election Express, a multimillion-dollar HD mobile newsroom. 'It won’t have the bells and whistles,' he added, 'but we’ll make up for it with bigger brains.'" Broadcasting & Cable, 3 July 2008. See also an American undergraduate's translation of Al-Jazeera Arabic coverage of the U.S. election. St, Louis Post-Dispatch The Platform blog, 3 July 2008.

Chronicling the accelerating decline of shortwave broadcasting.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Heidi Lucas of [Deutsche Welle] Customer Service said, 'DW`s objective is to do without shortwave, wherever possible, some day. But as far as I know, there are not yet plans to cease the German broadcasts for Australia. The future belongs to FM (via partner stations), satellite and above all to audio and video via the internet. Please do not forget: As long as DW has shortwave transmissions, we need reception reports'" Don Rhodes, BDXC-UK Communication, via DX Listening Digest, 1 July 2008.
     Some confusion whether Radio Singapore International will close down at the end of June or the end of July, but monitoring seems to indicate end of July. Also uncertain whether Singapore's domestic broadcasts will continue to be relayed via shortwave. Victor Goonetilleke and Rich McVicar, DXplorer, via, and Walt Salmaniw, Ron Howard, and Glenn Hauser, DX Listening Digest, 3 July 2008.
     Radio Taiwan International has dropped some of it shortwave relays via WYFR, Okeechobee, Florida. Jon Pukila, Dan Say, Kai Ludwig, and Glenn Hauser, reporting to DX Listening Digest, 3 July 2008. Consult DX Listening Digest for expert monitoring of the stations that are still transmitting on shortwave, and evidence of those who are not. International broadcasters do not always adequately state their intentions re shortwave.

Consolidation of French international broadcasting brings transition to Radio France Internationale.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The head of a new, streamlined French media group, Alain de Pouzilhac, took over as CEO of Radio France Internationale on Tuesday, marking one of the first steps in a controversial overhaul of public broadcasting in France. Pouzilhac is already the head of Audiovisuel exterieur de la France (AEF), a group set up to bring together France’s international media stations: France24, RFI and France’s share of the international French-speaking channel TV5." Radio Netherlands Media Network, 2 July 2008, citing RFI, 30 June 2008.
     "From the outside, it looks like France 24 has, in effect, taken over Radio France Internationale, the international broadcasting radio service. France 24 is barely 18 months old and is a combined TV and Internet operation running in 3 languages. RFI has been around a lot longer, but is definitely more of a traditional radio network." Jonathan Marks, Critical Distance Weblog, 2 July 2008.
     "Je voudrais continuer a developper RFI et pas uniquement dans des grands bassins d'audience [presumably Africa] mais sur des territoires dans lesquels nous devrons etre en conquete. Des territoires comme en Iran, au Proche et Moyen-Orient, en Europe de l'Est ou en Asie." RFI, 2 July 2008 (with link to 9-minute audio interview).
     Antoine Schwarz, outgoing president-directeur general of RFI, cites among his accomplishments the establishment of an FM rebroadcasting network slightly larger than that of BBC World Service. RFI press release, 4 July 2008.
     Christine Ockrent becomes "numero 2" at RFI. RFI press release, 3 July 2008. And Genevieve Goetzinger the directrice deleguee (deputy director). RFI press release, 3 July 2008.

International radio listeners are very well informed, even in captivity.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
French president Nicolas Sarkozy "said he was flabbergasted when [French-Colombian politician Ingrid] Betancourt called him from the tarmac as soon as her military helicopter had landed from the jungle, asking him to thank [his wife Carla] Bruni. The president was surprised that she knew all the details of their relationship and events. 'I was stupefied that she had followed all that very precisely,' he said. Betancourt had listened to Radio France International every day towards the end of her captivity." The Guardian, 4 July 2008.

Russia calling America: be more humble. America calling Russia: slow down for pedestrians.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Interview with Margarita Simonyan, editor in chief of Russia Today TV: MN: "Do you think there are some things that Russia could teach America? MS: It seems that the United States should try to humble itself a bit. After all, it has been a very long time since Russia, for example, has lectured another country. MN: Is there anything that America could teach Russia? MS: Deriving from its culture of rules, America could teach Russia a better respect for the law. Even in small things, like not offering a bribe to a police officer, for example, or that motorists must slow down for pedestrians. MN: Okay, now I must ask you a question that everyone probably asks you. MS: If I take my orders from the Kremlin? MN: Yes [laughter]. MS: I'm tired of answering that, really. If I do get a call from the Kremlin, it might be from somebody who works in the Kremlin press pool inviting me to go out for a beer or something." Moscow News, 3 July 2008.

In the new world information order, state control would be a good thing.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Top-level experts opened Wednesday the Seventh Conference of [the Non Aligned Movement] Information Ministers with a series of proposals to be analyzed today by heads of delegations. The aim is to adopt concrete programs, as of experiences of the Movement and some members, to face the dominion of Northern countries and large companies in communication. This is part of a process to develop freedom of the press that in the past was identified with the right of media owners to decide editorial guidelines. That principle implied any state attempt to control was a violation of the right to inform. Even within extensive positions of NAM, with 117 members throughout the world, there is an appreciable advance in criteria for a new world information order, a concept limited to theory few years ago. An initiative for the ministers' analysis is the Latin American multi-state Telesur channel, an example most of countries attending the meeting consider can be extended throughout the continent." Prensa Latina, 3 July 2008. Venezuela's communication and information minister Andres Izarra: "We want a new international information order. Besides the consolidation and expansion of Telesur network, Venezuela is proposing to create a radio of the South and a network of content production that serves as an information databank for all our countries in order to achieve the democratization of information." El Universal (Caracas), 3 July 2008. "Delegates rejected the spreading of discriminatory and distorted reports about the nations of the South and they welcomed an initiative to reactivate broadcasting organizations of the Non Aligned Movement." Cuban News Agency, 3 July 2008. At NAM, Brazilian information vice minister discusses cooperation with Telesur. Telesur, 3 July 2008.

Our virtual country is so much easier to explain than the real one.

Posted: 04 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The US State Department has begun exploring Second Life as a means to introduce people to American culture. Last year, it organized an eight-hour jazz concert that stretched across time zones. Next year, officials may work with Ohio University to coordinate tours of a virtual art exhibit led by the artist’s avatar. Already, several other countries, including Sweden and Estonia, have built cultural embassies in the online world." Christian Science Monitor, 2 July 2008. And, then, there is U.S. international broadcasting, portraying "first life" in the United States, and, if it is done correctly, avoiding anything that is "virtual."

Did Iranian foreign minister use VOA to make a point?

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki "expressed frustration that while Iran granted over 150 visas to U.S. journalists last year, Iranian journalists in the U.S. face restrictions. The U.S. Mission to the UN subsequently distinguished between independent journalists and those for state-run media. Iran's spokesman Mansour Sadeghi, at Wednesday['s] press conference, pointedly called on a reporter from Voice of America, perhaps for just this reason." Inner City Press, 2 July 2008.

Despite new book, we'll probably just shout more loudly.

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Jim Murphy, UK Minister for Europe, author of "new book, Engagement: Public Diplomacy in a Globalized World, stresses that "public diplomacy shouldn't be a matter of 'just shouting your message more loudly,' but ... that it's perhaps more important to change our perception of others than their perception of us. ... And Murphy stressed the need to gain a solid grasp of the history and sensitivities an issue has for another country, ultimately seeking to understand how the world looks from the other side. Probably we shouldn't need to be reminded of such basics... " David Shorr, Democracy Arsenal, 2 July 2008.

DRM digital shortwave looks for a niche.

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Summary of speech to National Association of Shortwave Broadcasters by former Digital Radio Mondiale (DRM) Consortium technical committee chairman Don Messer: "For shortwave — local community services, Alaska-type regional services, and long-range DRM services — the question is, 'are there markets — perhaps niche markets — in the U.S. for this kind of broadcasting?' The kinds of things I am talking about within the U.S. will require at least 1 to 2 to 3 years of testing. 'By that time, if there aren’t consumer receivers ready, forget you heard this speech.' Meanwhile, Messer pointed out that there are currently shortwave DRM transmissions to the United States from Canada, Bonaire, French Guiana and other sites. And 'nobody can prevent some Mexican entrepreneur from broadcasting out of Chihuahua or something like that as long as it’s coordinated with the HFCC.'" Jeff White, Radio World, 2 July 2008. See also NASB website. Andy Sennitt tells me no DRM transmissions are currently coming from Bonaire, although the capability remains.
     In Alaska, Digital Aurora Radio Technologies "DoD-funded [DRM] test would use existing 100 kW Continental transmitters designed for an Over-the-Horizon radar transmitting system formerly used in Cold War broadcasting and a digital signal generator operating from the Delta Junction area, some 130 miles southeast of Fairbanks. Other than that, the DoD connection is unclear.One transmitter producing output average power of 20 kW, in concert with an antenna that sends most of its radiated power into Alaska, should be able to be received throughout the state, the company believes. However, Digital Aurora needs to determine if such reception can be accomplished during times of high and low solar activity.' Radio World, 2 July 2008.

Via Al-Jazeera English, China gets an earful from Africans.

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Last Wednesday's episode of The Riz Khan Show on Al Jazeera English dealt with Chinese industries in Africa. ... According to Khan's guests and several callers, Chinese nationals are 'enslaving' Nigerians, forging corrupt partnerships with African party leaders, using up the world's natural resources like there's no tomorrow, and possibly forming an 'upgraded replay of colonialism' in Africa. On the flip side of things, one caller demands to know why China is being demonized when Western countries have been doing similar things in Africa for years." Adrienne Wong, Shanghaiist, 3 July 2008.

Zimbabwean commentators criticize Western broadcasters.

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Just last Sunday, the Voice of America State radio reported in one breath that South Africa had 'deported' hundreds of Zimbabwean immigrants but in the next breath the news bulletin said those affected had fled violent attacks on them to seek shelter and had said 'they wanted to return home.' While the contradiction should have been so obvious to the news writer, it appears that the over-riding desire to cause antagonism between the South African and Zimbabwean governments over the 'deportations' blinded that medium to the conflicting statements in the bulletin." Stephen Mpofu, The Herald (Harare), 3 July 2008.
     "Simple advice to the BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera (English), etc: Do not put your media houses into disrepute by inviting shallow analysts and also learn to debate real issues: sanctions (Zidera 2002), IMF/WB policies, Lancaster House Constitution and the reneging of the British government on its land compensation obligations, interference in other countries’ affairs, colonial legacy, North/South trade and economic relations and imbalances, etc. These are some of the pertinent questions that need to be addressed on any Zimbabwean debate, rather than all these cosmetic issues you discuss, that are meant to win you viewership." Philip Murombedzi, The Zimbabwe Guardian, 3 July 2008.

Nigerians can now watch Fox News.

Posted: 03 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Nigerian DTH platform HiTS has added more capacity on the Eutelsat W4 slot at 36 degrees East. Zee Cinema UK and Fox News are among the new channels for the platform, which has secured more than 100,000 subscribers within 11 months of its launch. HiTS offers a mix of international and homegrown channels and is available booth on DTH and on a MMDS terrestrial network (wireless cable). ... International content includes Eurosport, News, E! Entertainment, CNBC Africa, BBC World News... ." Broadband TV News, Broadband TV News, 3 July 2008.

The RFE Romanian Service will become the RFE Moldovan/Transdniestrian Service.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is putting an end to its broadcast in Romanian language starting August 1 - the very same day when BBC Romania also goes off air, as announced a week ago - according to a letter sent by RFE/RL head Jeff Gedmin to his colleagues on Wednesday. But as opposite to BBC Romania, RFE/RL would continue to broadcast for the Republic of Moldova and the Transdniester region." HotNews.ro, 2 July 2008. "Since Romania's acces[s]ion to the EU last year, media competition has increased dramatically and Romanians now have access to more than 70 daily newspapers, 300 private FM radio stations, cable TV and the Internet." RFE/RL press release, 2 July 2008.

"Reporting Among Gangsters."

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
The president of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty discusses his station's difficulties reporting from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Kazakhstan. "The 'stans' of Central Asia, a group of largely poor countries, also have an image problem: Their names sound remote to Western ears, and their issues will never spark the interest or controversy of Iran or Tibet. Without the celebrity of a Dalai Lama, Westerners are simply unlikely to pay attention." Jeffrey Gedmin, Washington Post, 2 July 2008.

Beleaguered Alhurra is getting scoops.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Iraqi officials have said little about a Hezbollah role in this country. However, President Jalal Talabani told U.S.-funded Alhurra television this week that 'there have been several occasions' when Hezbollah members or those who 'claim to belong to Hezbollah' have been detained in Iraq. He gave no further details." AP, 1 July 2008. "The Maysan [province of Iraq] police spokesman, speaking on al-Hurra television, said arrest warrants had been issued for the three members of the Maysan provincial council. He did not say why the warrants were issued." Reuters, 2 July 2008. The two stories hint that Alhurra reporters might want to work on their follow-up questioning.

So who can domestically disseminate, and who can't?

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"No one can tell the story of America’s global commitment to sustainable development and its contributions to our security better than the people who do the work every day. Yet their ability to do so is restricted by Section 501 of the U.S. Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 (the Smith-Mundt Act), which functionally restricts the ability of USAID to use public dollars to tell its story inside the United States. This legislation should be amended or repealed so that USAID, just like the Department of Defense, can tell the American people about the value of its work and continue to build public support for it." Center for American Progress, 1 July 2008. "There's one problem: USAID is not covered by Smith-Mundt, nor is the Department of Defense. USAID's failure in public diplomacy that engages a global audience, including Americans, is not a result of a Smith-Mundt prophylactic. The truth is USAID operates independently [of] America's public diplomacy efforts." Matt Armstrong, MountainRunner, 1 July 2008. Well, there is the USAID Office for Public Diplomacy for Middle Eastern & MEPI Affairs. Is this U.S. public diplomacy effort exempt from Smith-Mundt? In any case, the USAID website is effusively telling its story, and nothing at that site seem seems to discourage U.S. visitors. See, in particular, the Telling Our Story and FrontLines pages.

Glassman: public diplomacy is about influencing, and international broadcasting is part of public diplomacy.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
James K Glassman, under secretary of state for public diplomacy, in his "first speech," to the Council on Foreign Relations: "Public diplomacy is diplomacy that's aimed at publics, as opposed to officials. Public diplomacy, like official diplomacy and like war, when war becomes necessary, has as its mission the achievement of the national interest. Public diplomacy performs this mission by understanding, informing, engaging, and influencing foreign publics. Ultimately it is that last word, influencing, that counts the most. ... Before getting to the war of ideas, let me talk briefly about the more traditional tools of public diplomacy. Until a few weeks ago, I chaired ... the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which supervises taxpayer-funded U.S. international broadcasting." CFR, 30 June 2008. However, the audience for international broadcasting tunes in to be informed, not influenced. It is because of this theoretical disconnect that U.S. international broadcasting will probably remain number one in expenditures, but number two in audience size.

To know us is to love us? Comments on U.S. public diplomacy.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Talking the talk won't mean much if the United States isn't walking the walk. In this world of ubiquitous media, all American actions are public diplomacy -- and they speak much more loudly than the words generated by the public diplomacy shop." Star-Ledger (New Jersey), 1 July 2008. "The State Department should attempt to do better at 'public diplomacy.' The more people in some other countries know about America, after all, the less likely they are to want to destroy us." Wheeling News-Register, 1 July 2008. Pakistani Ambassador to United States Husain Haqqani: "Every time a significant, respectable Pakistani is humiliated at an American airport, despite having a valid visa, the story doesn't even make it into your papers, but it's the biggest story of the day in Pakistan." Daily Times (Lahore), 2 July 2008.

I'll gladly pay you Tuesday...

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
WorldSpace Satellite Radio "has agreed with each of the four holders of the Company's amended and restated secured notes (the Bridge Loan Notes) and second amended and restated convertible notes (the Convertible Notes) to defer until July 9, 2008 the Company's obligation to pay $19.86 million in principal amount of the Bridge Loan Notes including accrued but unpaid interest due on the Bridge Loan Notes and Convertible Notes that was scheduled to be paid on June 30, 2008." WorldSpace press release, 1 July 2008.

Alabama mayor will not talk to Al-Jazeera.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Reporters from Al Jazeera English will be in Birmingham [Alabama] Tuesday, for a story about Mayor Larry Langford's plan for a four-day work week for city employees." Birmingham News, 30 June 2008. "Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford today refused to interview with reporters from Al Jazeera English because he opposed the network's coverage of terrorist activities and its graphic display of an American being executed." Birmingham News, 1 July 2008.

BBC World News bumped from Amsterdam analog channels (updated).

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
On the UPC cable systems in the Netherlands, Discovery’s Animal Planet is added as an analog channel. To make room: "In Amsterdam, it is remarkably BBC World News that will disappear." Broadband TV New, 15 June 2008. Update: "Whilst it makes a lot of sense to migrate these kinds of channels behind a set-top box at some point in the future - the penetration of set-top boxes in the Netherlands is way too low at the moment. It is clearly much too early to be messing with the diversity of programmes on offer. As things stand now, most of the hotels in Amsterdam as well as 80% of the population will lose BBC News from cable as from July 1st." Jonathan Marks, Critical Distance weblog, 30 June 2008. "UPC Nederland has stopped analogue distribution of TV5 Monde in large parts of its networks to make room for Animal Planet. The channel remains available in Amsterdam, where the cabler has ousted BBC World News... It is the only French language broadcaster available on most Dutch cable nets." Broadband TV News, 1 July 2008.

Canadian psyop and its "uncommitted target audience" in Afghanistan.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Sgt. Donald Clark, serving with Canadian forces in Afghanistan, is "second in command of a tactical information operations team, also called a psyops or psychological operations team. Clark and colleague Cpl. David Carr, also from Thunder Bay, spend most of their time outside the air field base as their job involves talking to 'the uncommitted target audience' -- Afghans -- in an effort to gain their support. 'We do this primarily by ensuring that people are informed of the facts, understand the consequences of actions and are aware of our intent,' Clark wrote. 'We also monitor Taliban information operations and dispel Taliban rumours that attempt to instill fear in the local populace -- a method the Taliban likes to use to control the largely uneducated villagers.' In fighting the information war, Clark‘s team uses leaflets, newspapers, radio and loudspeakers, but relies mainly on old-fashioned face-to-face talking." Chronicle Journal (Thunder Bay, Ontario), 2 July 2008.

German World War II broadcasts to the Middle East.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Forthcoming book by Prof. Jeffrey Herf of the University of Maryland details "Germany's propaganda outreach to the Arab world, which was designed by the German Foreign Office and broadcast over short-wave radio. 'When the Nazis broadcast propaganda in Arabic, Persian and Turkish to the Middle East, they were taking a narrative that they had developed - rooted in a paranoid fantasy of an international Jewish conspiracy - and presenting it in a different context,' Herf said. The radio broadcasts, primarily in Arabic, sought to create a connection between devout Muslims and the secular political message of Nazi Germany, and quickly outnumbered the Nazis' broadcasts to Europe and the United States, he said." Jerusalem Post, 1 July 2008. See also Prof. Herf web page.

Not universally celebrated: Press TV is one year old.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
Mohammad Sarafraz, vice president of the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) World Service, on the first anniversary of Press TV: "Press TV has tried to open a new window for the English-speaking viewers, particularly American and European audiences and to deliver the news from a new perspective, and to some extent, it has been successful. ...
For example, Hezbollah is a very influential Lebanese group. According to various polls, the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah is also one of the most popular figures in the Middle East. Despite all this, media outlets did not televise his speeches or censored most of it. However, Press TV has conducted live broadcasts of all his speeches along with simultaneous translation and given a voice to Hezbollah." Press TV, 2 July 2008. "It is difficult to measure the number of viewers of a television network within a year's time ... however, the website of Press TV has been visited by millions of people over the past year." Vision of the Islamic Republic of Iran Network 1, via BBC Monitoring, via redOrbit, 1 July 2008. "Looks like my analysis on Press TV was pretty good." Max Keiser, Huffington Post, 1 July 2008. See previous post about Press TV.

Memories of a pirate station.

Posted: 02 Jul 2008   Print   Send a link
"Radio North Sea International was bigger, better and flashier than any other pirate. Aboard a Norwegian coaster converted into the radio ship Mebo II in a Hamburg shipyard, it came on the air on January 23 1970.
Painted in brilliant psychedelic colours and topped by a 50 metre high radio mast, it was, for me, a fascinating enigma from the start. Its conventional medium wave transmitter was more powerful than any other pirate radio ship, and most European national radio stations, and it also, surprisingly, broadcast on two short wave bands and on VHF. It was difficult to discern any commercial rationale behind the operation." Paul Harris, allmediaSCOTLAND.com, 1 July 2008. I remember hearing its shortwave signal on this side of the Atlantic.

The hostage who listened to BBC World Service.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Documentary film-maker Sean Langan, held captive on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border by a group allied to the Taliban for three months, "was not completely without news of the outside world. Among the 'presents' brought by Mr C [one of his captors] was a radio on which he listened to the BBC World Service. Unaware of the decision to impose a news blackout over his capture, he listened in vain for any reference to his disappearance, increasingly feeling he was forgotten." The Guardian, 28 June 2008.

Jazz ambassadors, not always on message. Which was the message.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"A photography exhibition of those concert tours, titled 'Jam Session: America’s Jazz Ambassadors Embrace the World,' is on display at the Meridian International Center in Washington through July 13 and then moves to the Community Council for the Arts in Kinston, N.C. ... The jazzmen’s independence made some officials nervous. But the shrewder diplomats knew that on balance it helped the cause. The idea was to demonstrate the superiority of the United States over the Soviet Union, freedom over Communism, and here was evidence that an American — even a black man — could criticize his government and not be punished." New York Times, 29 June 2008.

The BBG and ProPublica engage in a colloquy.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Joaquin Blaya, member of Broadcasting Board of Governors, to ProPublica: "ProPublica’s 'investigative report' on Alhurra television is so lacking in depth and accuracy that it can only be defined as sensationalism. It is filled with inaccuracies and innuendo that draw the reader to erroneous conclusions." ProPublica responds with more questions. ProPublica, 30 June 2008. See previous post about same subject.
     "ProPublica.org aims to make up some of the ground lost to journalism by the current crisis of advertising revenues bleeding to the internet. In particular, it seeks to preserve the skills and value of investigative reporting - one of the first casualties of cuts by dint of its relative costliness. It burst on to the US media scene last week with its first major investigation - an expose of how the US-backed Arabic language TV network Alhurra is counter-productive to US interests, poorly watched and a waste of $500m of public money. The investigation was produced as a documentary and aired on the prestigious TV magazine 60 Minutes, causing ripples through Congress and shaking up the Bush administration-backed network." The Guardian, 30 June 2008.
     ProPublica's investigation of Alhurra does have weaknesses: 1) The small number of transgressions that it found during a lengthy monitoring period are not enough to brand Alhurra as biased. 2) The Alhurra audience sizes are not bad for a non-Arab competitor; using the "station you watch most often" as the only measure is particularly misleading. 3) ProPublica cannot prove that payments to contributors by Alhurra constitute government influence; there are similar public-funded but independent broadcasting corporations in Europe and elsewhere who pay contributors but are not dismissed as government propaganda.
     "A significant portion of the funds being spent on the Iraq war should be redirected to help the satellite network al-Hurra disseminate ideas and information to Muslim hearts and minds in nations where there is so much hostility to U.S. foreign policy." Barry Dwork, letter to Washington Post, 30 June 2008.

Aljazeera will stay on Burlington cable (updated again).

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"A group that wants the city of Burlington to drop Al-Jazeera English from the local cable TV system has been dealt a setback. Two advisory committees are recommending that the Middle Eastern news channel should stay." WCAX-TV (Burlington), 25 June 2008. See also letters to the Burlington Free Press, 24 June 2008. "The oversight committees said that while its members are 'unequivocally opposed to hateful and intolerant speech,' much of the testimony opposed to Al-Jazeera English at two public forums seemed to have 'been based on secondary sources.'" Burlington Free Press, 26 June 2008. "'We're overjoyed,' Al-Jazeera English Washington Bureau Chief Will Stebbins said Thursday after learning of the recommendation. 'We see this as an "Inherit the Wind," with Clarence Darrow winning this time.'" Burlington Free Press, 27 June 2008. "Given the historical track record of Al-Jazeera's unsavory past, the burden of proof falls not on those who oppose it, but on the network itself and the managers of Burlington Telecom to ensure that the discrepancy between the incendiary images and messages that it has aired and the new dressed-up version that is currently being promoted does not resurface on our publicly owned communication outlet." Jamie Zeppernick, executive director of the Defenders Council of Vermont, Burlington Free Press, 27 June 2008. "The manner is which the telecom handled the brouhaha is an example of how smaller providers often can have an edge when it comes to understanding the needs and wants of local subscribers." Jim O'Neill, FierceTelecom, 27 June 2008. Update: "Given the absence of hard evidence of Al-Jazeera's promoting terrorism or engaging in hate speech, the objections to the network seem based largely on an image of the network driven by the opponents' ideology. Although it receives no tax dollars, Burlington Telecom is a city department. A municipal entity shutting off access to a news source for ideological reasons comes uncomfortably close to government censorship." Editorial, Burlington Free Press, 29 June 2008.

Glassman on "How to Win the War of Ideas" (updated).

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
The new undersecretary of state for public diplomacy writes: "The task is not to persuade potential recruits to become like Americans or Europeans, but to divert them from becoming terrorists. We do that by helping to build networks (virtual and physical) and countermovements – not just political but cultural, social, athletic and more: mothers against violence, video gamers, soccer enthusiasts, young entrepreneurs, Islamic democrats. ... Unlike the containment policy of the Cold War, today's diversion policy may not primarily be the responsibility of government. My own job, as the interagency leader for the war of ideas, is to mobilize every possible American asset – public and private, human and technological – in the effort." James K. Glassman, Wall Street Journal, 24 June 2008. Does U.S. involvement in a Muslim anti-terrorist movement help or hinder the cause? See previous posts on 12 January 2008, 20 June 2007, and 20 May 2007. And maybe we are "losing" the "war of ideas" because we think of it as "war". Update: "I agree wholeheartedly because our goal isn't to turn Muslim extremists into American wannabes, but to convince them that violence is a dead end." Guy W. farmer, Nevada Appeal, 29 June 2008.

Public diplomacy pencil pushers.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy: "Public-affairs officers view themselves, and are viewed by others, more as managers and administrators than as expert communicators. [They] are being asked to spend the overwhelming majority of their time on administration and management, not outreach." ... The report says public-diplomacy training at the State Department 'has never been stronger,' but adds that it is 'not yet strong enough,' with 'a number of conspicuous, and serious, blind spots.'" Washington Times, 30 June 2008. See also Advisory Commission website with link to the full report.

Award-winning TV ad will almost convince you to give up your reserved parking spot.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The TV advertising campaign conducted by the International Association of Public Transport (UITP) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) won a prestigious award from the European Association of Communications Agencies( EACA ). ... The ad, which has some 20 language versions, was aired on BBC World, CNBC, CNN, EuroNews, Sky News, E Entertainment, TV5 and Bloomberg." UITP/UNEP press release, 30 June 2008. See previous post about same subject.

New ads inside CNN's "Inside the Middle East."

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN International today announced that Orascom Development Holding AG joins Orascom Telecom as exclusive sponsor of CNN's flagship Middle East flagship feature show 'Inside the Middle East' from this month." AMEInfo, 30 June 2008. Orascom is based in Cairo and specializes in "planning, building and operating integrated, self-sufficient leisure and residential towns around the world." Orascom website. See also Inside the Middle East web page.

EuroNews to Asia via AsiaSat 2.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The EuroNews channel, covering news from a European perspective, has selected SatLink Communications ... to transmit its seven language, 24-hour news channel on SatLink's AsiaSat 2 MCPC (Multiple Channels Per Carrier) digital platform. ... AsiaSat 2’s excellent ground penetration guarantees instantaneous access to numerous cable operators, rebroadcasters, embassies, hotels and individual home viewers and listeners in the region. AsiaSat 2 also includes the largest number of foreign channels authorized by the Chinese government, and many of these are transmitted directly from SatLink’s teleport." broadcastbuyer, 30 June 2008. See also SatLink website.

One shortwave transmitter does not a world radio station make.

Posted: 30 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Voice of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe's world radio station, appears to be reaching all parts of the globe judging by the correspondence it is receiving from countries as far apart as Brazil and India.
The station, which broadcasts on shortwave in the 60 metre (evenings) and 49 metre (daytime) bands, is also providing Zimbabweans in Binga and other outlying areas that cannot receive FM broadcasts, with a radio service. Voice of Zimbabwe station manager Shadreck Mupeni last week said letters have been received from as far afield as Brazil, Japan, India, Australia, Poland and Greece." The Sunday Mail (Harare), 29 June 2008. Andy Sennitt: "It’s interesting that the countries mentioned all have a significant number of shortwave listeners/DXers who routinely report to radio stations in an attempt to get their reception verified by a QSL card. It is technically impossible to provide a “world service” with a single transmitter operating in the 60 or 49 metre bands. Apparently the Voice of Zimbabwe is confusing DX reports with letters from people genuinely interested in the station’s programming." Kai Ludwig: "But do they have any interest in knowing better? Counting QSL haunters as real listeners is an old trick when determining listener figures. This includes fooling itself about good reception when no real-world listener would accept what the DXers picked out of the noise." Radio Netherlands Media Network, 29 June 2008.

Alhurra supports Radio Sawa.

Posted: 29 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"A radio Sawa reporter was attacked by security guards of the secretary-general of the Ministry of Culture at the recent al-Marbad poetic festival in Basra, acting as a stern reminder that journalists continue to suffer aggressive and humiliating behavior at the hands of Iraqi officials.
... While such behavior might have been expected to embarrass the Ministry of Culture and to mobilize other media outlets in support of the abused journalist, nothing has happened and no condemnation emerged from other media organizations. With the exception of al-Hurra and the Journalistic Freedom Observatory in Iraq, efforts to highlight the incident went unheeded." Ahmed Thamer, Media Channel, 26 June 2008. Apparently referring to an incident reported in May. Alhurra and Radio Sawa are sister stations under the Middle East Broadcasting Network (MBN) Inc., which is under the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

Two comments on the Alhurra controversy.

Posted: 29 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The government ought to pull the plug on this wasteful venture. But that doesn’t mean the voice of America or a pro-democracy message can’t or won’t be heard. Radio Free Europe, combined with Radio Liberty, continues to broadcast news, political commentaries, sports and music in the Middle East — all written, produced, and broadcast by nationals from the audience countries." Guy Petroziello, Bucks County Courier Times, 26 June 2008. Alhurra content is written, produced, and broadcast by nationals from the audience countries. And the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty is the "voice of America" as opposed to the unmentioned Voice of America? -- "With Hollywood stars, along with university professors and the American elitists, tearing down America’s traditional values on a daily basis, we certainly need to spread a positive image of America to the Arabic world. There has to be a counter-balance to the Sean Penns and Susan Sarandons of the world. If U.S. taxpayers have spent nearly half a billion dollars on Al Hurra in the last four years, I submit that it will do America more good than 'bridges to nowhere'!" Drema Molloy, TCPalm.com, 28 June 2008.

Commentator discusses his payments from Alhurra.

Posted: 29 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Both commercial media and slightly-public-funded media (such as NPR) pay for some appearances and commentary. And, as I explained to Kiel, when he interviewed me for the ProPublica article, it is customary for foreign media outlets that are state-supported--such as the BBC and the Canadian Broadcasting Company--to compensate guests for interviews and commentary. I have received such payments in the past (regrettably, only a handful of times). Alhurra was playing by these rules. Linzer and Kiel did not mention the BBC/CBC practice in the article. Moreover, Voice of America, something of a sister organization for Alhurra, also compensates journalists who are guests on some of its programs." David Corn, DavidCorn.com, 27 June 2008. Refers to article in ProPublica, 24 June 2008. See previous post about same subject.

A Swiss army knife as head of public diplomacy.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The new president ... should appoint as under secretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs a trusted, respected and a tough, Washington-savvy confidant with diplomatic, international, broadcasting and bureaucratic experience - a qualification sorely lacking in Bush appointees Karen Hughes and Charlotte Beers, whose expertise, respectively, consisted of political campaigning and advertising." John Brown, The Guardian comment is free, 26 June 2008. You can leave out the broadcasting experience, because the under secretary for public diplomacy does not have authority over U.S. international broadcasting. The chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors and the undersecretary are separate positions, and they should be adversarial when necessary.

Al-Jazeera v. Morocco.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The latest battle line drawn between [Morocco's] authorities and the media is some way south of Casablanca, in the coastal town of Sidi Ifni. In the dock for the manner of its reporting on disturbances earlier this month is Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based TV station which has been constantly under the spotlight of administrative attention since starting its daily broadcasts of Maghreb news in 2006. Now the Moroccan bureau chief of Al-Jazeera has reportedly been charged with publishing false information and conspiracy after the channel reported that there had been deaths when the police, on June 7, attempted to disperse youths who had blocked Sidi Ifni's port for a week in protest against local unemployment. The official version eventually reported 44 people being injured, mostly members of the security forces. While Al-Jazeera's initial reporting might well have erred on the dramatic side, there does seem to be more of a story in Sidi Ifni than the government would like to be made known." James Badcock, The Daily Star (Beirut), 27 June 2008.

Will BBC and KTV join in the rubbishing?

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"British broadcaster the BBC is to produce a documentary on labour conditions in Kuwait following a US report slating the Gulf state for its lack of action to protect expatriates from exploitation and stamp out human trafficking. The programme will be done by BBC Arabic in partnership with Kuwait Television (KTV) and will include interviews with numerous high-profile officials, state news agency KUNA reported on Saturday. ... Kuwait has rubbished the report's findings, claiming that it has criminalised all forms of human trafficking and that it provided assistance to victims." ArabianBusiness.com, 28 June 2008. Let's look for confirmation from the BBC on this. It presupposes the ability of KTV to report independently. Could this maybe be an infomercial on BBC World News?

The anchor of BBC World News America writes about America.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Review of Only in America: Inside the Mind and Under the Skin of the Nation Everyone Loves to Hate by Matt Frei, presenter of BBC World News America: "The breeziness of Frei's comment is fetching; but the same lightness also points to one of the irritating aspects of these essays: their lack of depth. A more complete examination of the think-tank phenomenon, for instance, would take into account its history, the fact that these foundations were largely funded by rightwing entrepreneurs who felt upset that so many intellectuals came from universities where leftist ideas (at least by their reckoning) dominated the conversation. The idea was to coopt some good brains for the right, and to add some intellectual ballast to conservative ideology. These institutions were created to supply a pool of talking heads for the Beltway talk shows. Their staff would generate op-ed pieces in the major newspapers and magazines, and would advise the administration in power. From this group of impressive brains came the Iraq war, their crowning achievement." Jay Parini, The Guardian, 28 June 2008. Frei likes Savannah, Sanata Fe, and San Francisco, and dislike Cambridge, Ohio, and Des Moines: "It's so cold in winter and so hot in summer that the buildings are connected by air-conditioned or heated walkways. It gives you a glimpse of life post-climatic disaster." The Observer, 29 June 2008.

BBC World News will tackle diseases.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ruder Finn has been appointed by Imperial College London to handle advocacy activity around a series of global health documentaries on BBC World. The documentaries are a high profile part of this autumn's global health season on BBC World, tackling issues such as neglected tropical diseases, HIV, malaria, TB, child survival and maternal health." PRWeek, 27 June 2008.

BBC will drop Romanian (updated).

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"On August 1 2008 after 68 years of broadcasting. BBC Romanian broadcasts for almost four hours a day on radio and also runs a complementary website. It is the last of the BBC's non-English language services specifically aimed at countries that are EU member states. ... 'Europe has changed, fundamentally, since the early nineties; and with the rapidly declining audiences in Romania we can no longer justify continuing the service.'" BBC World Service press release, 25 June 2008. Update: Before BBC pulls the plug, it might want to monitor this: "Although initially rejected by the [Romanian] chamber of deputies, a proposed amendment to the broadcasting law that would force radio and TV stations to balance news with 'negative' themes with an equal amount of news with 'positive' themes was adopted yesterday by the senate." Reporters sans frontieres, 26 June 2008.

More criticism of BBC's agreement with Pakistan's media regulator.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Ever since the expose of the secret of the BBC World Service striking a deal with Pakistan’s PEMRA over the pre-censorship arrangements, questions are being asked if the BBC can stoop to that level of non-professional conduct then what example it is setting for those third world countries where journalists take its practices as model for their own standard of journalism." Media Monitors Network, 26 June 2008. See previous post about same subject.

RFI's scoop re Ugandan rebels.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
The leader of the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda, Joseph Kony, "raised hopes that the peace process could continue when he affirmed his commitment to the talks in a rare phone interview with Radio France International." VOA New, 27 June 2008. "Kony immediately called Radio France International (RFI), crying foul. He said his soldiers had been attacked by SPLA and they fought back." The Independent (Kampala), 27 June 2008.

Is NAM-TV the next international channel?

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Cuba, as the chair of the Non-Aligned Countries Movement, presented a declaration and a plan of action for the creation of a NAM news agency and a TV network... [Cuban deputy minister for foreign relations, Abelardo] Moreno said it is important that the Movement creates its own mechanisms to keep the world updated on real and objective events that take place in the different NAM member countries." ACN Cuban News Agency, 26 June 2008.

CNN's new joint venture in Chile.

Posted: 28 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"CNN Chile, the first 24-hour news network in Chile, presented its executive team and official network logo as it prepares to begin broadcasting before the end of the year. ... CNN Chile will be operated by a locally based management team following all CNN's globally acclaimed journalistic and editorial guidelines. This joint venture marks the first of its kind in Latin America for both companies. CNN Worldwide has successful partnership channels in other parts of the world, including CNN+ in Spain; CNN Turk in Turkey; CNNj and CNN.com.jp, both in Japan; and CNN-IBN in India." Televisionpoint.com, 26 June 2008.

Peter Kann, Michael Meehan nominated for the BBG.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"President George W. Bush nominated former Dow Jones Chief Executive Officer Peter Kann to be a member of the Broadcasting Board of Governors. ... A Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist for the Wall Street Journal, Kann was CEO of Dow Jones & Co. from 1991 to early 2006. He served as the company's chairman until April 2007. If confirmed by the Senate, Kann would serve out the remainder of former BBG Chairman James Glassman's three-year term, which expires in August 2010. ... In addition to Kann, Bush nominated Michael Meehan for another spot on the BBG." Dow Jones, 26 June 2008. About Meehan, this from SourceWatch: "Michael Meehan is president of BGR Public Relations, and vice president of the firm's parent company, BGR Holding LLC. ... Meehan previously served as chief of staff to Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and communications adviser to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.)" Also from his bio at the BGR Holding website: "Meehan has held positions of influence in the public policy and media relations arenas." So Meehan will have a Democratic seat on the bipartisan BBG, and Kann a Republican seat. It is not clear if Kann will take over as chairman of the BBG, or if another member of the BBG will be nominated to that position. U.S. international broadcasting is primarily in the news business, so it is preferable for BBG members to have backgrounds in doing journalism rather than influencing journalism. -- The White House also withdraw its nomination to reappoint D. Jeffrey Hirschberg to the BBG, sent to the Senate 9 January 2007 for a term to expire 13 August 2007. The White House press release, 26 June 2008.

The dangers of being associated with U.S. international broadcasting.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"In Bakharden, Turkmenistan today, a contributor to RFE/RL's Turkmen Service (Radio Azatlyk) was found beaten and tortured for refusing to sign a letter in which he agreed to stop reporting for RFE/RL. Three days ago, Sazak Durdymuradov, a history teacher whose commentary and analysis for Radio Azatlyk often focuses on educational and constitutional reform, was seized by Turkmen police from his home in Bakharden. Upon discovering Durdymuradov today at a detention facility run by the national security office (former KGB), his wife said he told her he 'wanted to die.' This incident occurred as the Turkmenistan government was hosting a 'Dialogue on Human Rights' with the European Union in the nation's capital, Ashgabat." Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty press release, 24 June 2008. See also Reporters sans frontieres, 26 June 2008.
     Somalia: "Abdulkadir Mohammed Nunow, the director of Bosaso-based Radio Horseed and a correspondent of Voice of America’s Somali-language service, was released at 11 a.m. today after being held overnight without being charged." RSF, 26 June 2008.

Coming soon: the coveted VOA MBA.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Two-hundred days and counting until the Miami University Voice of America Learning Center opens its doors for classes. The 23,000 square-foot facility will house a variety of programs, including Alumni Career Services, graduate programs and potentially an undergraduate degree completion program. ... During the week, he said there is room for as many as 80 classes and 35 students per hour. Classes will include a master's of business and administration from the Farmer School of Business, graduate programs in education and a bachelor's of integrated studies." The Oxford (Ohio) Press, 26 June 2008. At the site of the old VOA Bethany shortwave transmitting station.

They're young, and they work for free.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Teenagers from Iceland, Tajikistan and Serbia will join high school students from 34 other countries for a U.S. Department of State-sponsored program at Wake Forest University June 28 through July 30. ... While in Washington, D.C., the students will create programming for their native countries at the Voice of America headquarters." WFU press release, 25 June 2008. Tristan Milder, [an Elon University] junior from New Jersey, is interning at Voice of America in Washington, D.C. Milder works with several VOA Web shows including 'The Daily Download,' 'Election USA' and 'Going Green.' Milder contributed to the recently canceled news magazine 'The World Today,' which airs in India." The Pendulum, 25 June 2008. "Winooski native and Brandeis University student Eli Harrington ... was scheduled to leave Friday for an eight-week internship at Voice of America's Beijing bureau and will likely report on activities at the Summer Olympics." Burlington Free Press, 24 June 2008.

Another bring-back-USIA op-ed.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"In its heyday, USIA used many resources to reach out to international audiences. Seasoned public affairs officers stationed in foreign capitals, speaking the local language, cultivated local newspaper editors, TV news directors, and other thought leaders. ... What a new president and Congress should do is revive the best of these past USIA programs, meld them with the newest technology, and create a new and even better USIA." John Hughes, Christian Science Monitor, 26 June 2008. Other than some libraries, curtailed by security concerns and somewhat obviated by the internet, what programs from the old USIA are missing U.S. public diplomacy under the State Department? What would be restored by the re-creation of USIA, other than suites full of senior-level bureaucrats? -- "Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Education and Training Pham Vu Luan and US Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs James K. Glassman signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on education cooperation. Under the MoU, the two nations will encourage more and deeper cooperation between US and Vietnamese universities, increase the number of Vietnamese students studying at American universities and colleges, and develop training programmes for Vietnamese students." VietNamNet Bridge, 26 June 2008. So educational exchanges still exist under State. -- Fighting the 21st century "war" involves warfare, "lawfare," and "what might be called jawfare: the war of ideas, the war against the supremacist ideologies that drive terrorism, and for freedom and other Western values. James K. Glassman, sworn in this month as Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs — thereby putting him in charge of this command — candidly acknowledges that 'since the rise of Islamic terror we haven’t done enough on this front.'" Clifford D. May, National Review Online, 26 June 2008.

Zimbabwean admixture.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"There was one simple reason Zimbabwe's opposition party withdrew from run-off elections this week: they couldn't campaign in the first place. The ruling Zanu-PF party made sure that no pro-opposition material was aired by the state broadcasters, effectively blocking any country-wide campaign coverage. ... The two private [sic] radio stations that broadcast into parts of Zimbabwe, the London-based SW Radio and Washington's Voice of America (VOA) have not fared any better. The signals for both stations are periodically jammed and one civilian now faces court charges of 'committing criminal nuisance' by listening to the VOA programme in public. Even satellite dishes that occasionally pick up South African and Botswanian broadcasts were removed by pro-government militias in southern Zimbabwe, so citizens would not be subjected to 'misleading reports'." Tom Rhodes, The Guardian comment is free, 25 June 2008. "African American civil rights leader Reverend Jesse Jackson has urged President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to show their commitment to peace through negotiation and offered to broker talks between the two leaders to end the crisis in the country. Jackson who was speaking to Voice of America radio said he was aggrieved by the suffering of the Zimbabwean people." Zimbabwe Guardian, 25 June 2008. "In an exclusive interview on the Voice of America (VOA), Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Zimbabwean Deputy Information Minister Bright Matonga took different positions on whether runoff elections should be held." VOA press release, 25 June 2008.

BBC is even at the library.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The National Education Ministry is arguably one of the more people-friendly government agencies in Jakarta. ... One feature that immediately draws visitors in is the giant, flat-screen TV at the far end of the reading room. Sit on a sofa, put on earphones and watch the latest BBC world news broadcast. ... The digital video discs are also popular. Many are from the BBC and other U.K. networks." Jakarta Post, 27 june 2008.

I hope the publicity campaign is easier to understand than the publicity about the publicity campaign.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The BBC Global News' worldwide search for dynamic digital agencies to join its new roster for international marketing has concluded with the incumbent agency, Agency Republic, winning a place on the roster alongside newcomers to the BBC's international business, Play. ... The BBC Global News roster will work on the BBC World Service, which broadcasts on radio, TV and online, and BBC World News television. Campaigns in the forthcoming year are likely to promote a range of language programming including English, Arabic, Spanish, Urdu and Vietnamese, and will seek to bring new audiences to the BBC's increasingly sophisticated online offer." BBC World Service press release, 26 June 2008. This press release is evidence that corporate-speak has become a language separate from English. At least I understand the part about publicity campaigns for five mentioned BBC languages.

BBC helping to restore the UK's domain over the dominions.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"BBC Worldwide announced today it will acquire Australia's subscription-television channel, UK.TV, taking 100% ownership of the channel from July 1st 2008. As one of three stakeholders in UK.TV (formerly with a 20 per cent share), BBC Worldwide's Channels business has agreed terms with joint partners FOXTEL and FremantleMedia to become the channel's sole owner. ... In addition, BBC Worldwide has formed a strategic alliance with FOXTEL to roll out three new channels in Australia from its new BBC-branded global portfolio." BBC Worldwide press release, 25 June 2008. If I have this right, the five channels would be UK.TV, BBC HD, BBC Knowledge, CBeebies, and BBC World News. -- "The BBC is increasingly active on the ABC's turf, having declared Australia to be one of its key growth markets. ... The deal would have no implications for the BBC's existing contracts with free-to-air broadcasters including the ABC." Sydney Morning herald, 26 June 2008.

Radio Australia delegation unwelcome in Fiji.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"An audience survey by Australian broadcaster, Australian Network Television and Radio Australia, covering six Pacific Island countries, including Fiji is unlikely to be allowed to enter the country, sources have confirmed to Pacnews. The five-member team, led by ABC International head, Murray Green, was scheduled to meet with local stakeholders in Suva on July 14. ... The team[']s visit was to cover Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, Samoa and American Samoa. It's part of ABCs strategy to re-engage with their Pacific audience and see how Australian Network and Radio Australia can better serve the Pacific." Fiji Times, 24 June 2008.

MEMRI says Aljazeera says "U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Persecuting U.S. Muslims."

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Aljazeera (Arabic) reporter: "We are at the Islamic Saudi Academy in the state of Virginia - the largest institution teaching the Arabic language and Islamic education on the East Coast of the U.S. However, this institution faces mounting pressure, and this is a nightmare for the families of the students enrolled in the academy. This pressure is being brought to bear by several Congressmen, known for their great hostility towards Arabs and Muslims." Middle East Media Research Institute, 25 June 2008.

The internet may no longer be going by the old script.

Posted: 26 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Emily Taylor ... of Nominet, one of the world's largest internet registries, said including non-Roman scripts could be a major turning point in the history of the internet. 'There are currently 1.5 billion people using the internet, which means that there are a good 4.5 billion people who are not doing so,' she said. 'These people are not from Europe or America – most of them will be from developing world nations where the Roman script is meaningless.'" The Independent, 26 June 2008.

Alhurra media scrutiny: the second wave.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Discussion with James Glassman, undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs and former chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors, and Shibley Telhami, a professor of Middle East politics at the University of Maryland. "Telhami: Think about this for a minute. It's a government-funded news outlet. Look at the criticism that it's been receiving just in the last two days about airing a couple of segments that are critical of Israel on Al Hurra. Well, if you can -- even if they continue to do this, they're going to think about it twice. If you're a reporter, you're going to look behind your shoulder." ... Glassman: A lot of members of Congress don't understand -- I want to say it right now on this television show. We are professional broadcasters, and members of Congress who want us to be propagandists, we won't do that. We absolutely will not do that." PBS NewsHour, 23 June 2008.
     Daniel Schorr compares Alhurra to "unflashy Voice of America" and says the former is "trying to sell a propaganda line." National Public Radio, 24 June 2008.
     "I do think al-Hurra nowadays reports most of the basic news in a fairly straightforward manner. In speaking to a number of Arab journalists and others who want al-Hurra to succeed, however, there was a common complaint: al-Hurra doesn't go far enough in reporting the hard stories, the pieces about corruption and torture that are also ignored by their competitors in the Arab world. Covering those subjects would allow al-Hurra to stand out, and give it more credibility." Craig Whitlock online discussion, Washington Post, 24 June 2008.
     "I wrote about the on-its-face ludicrous idea that you could make a Radio Free Europe for the Middle East back in March 2006. Michael Young attacked the idea two years before that." Matt Welch, Reason, 24 June 2008.
     "The upshot of it all is that though the Arab world has many problems, it's just not a situation like Eastern Europe. Most Eastern Europeans regarded their governments as not only repressive, but as puppets of a Moscow-based Russian empire and many were willing to embrace the idea of US-assisted liberation. A lot of Americans would like Arabs to see the geopolitics of the Greater Middle East in that way, but relatively few actually do. ... But the essential first step is to not let our picture of the situation be clouded by wishful thinking or a weird kind of nostalgia and al-Hurra reflects both." Matthew Yglesias, TheAtlantic.com, 23 June 2008.
     "Al-Hurra is not perfect, but it is pretty good, and in some areas, such as the Iraq-market, I tend to see it as the market leader. When Iraqi politicians want to be heard and seen, they rush to get airtime on Al-Hurra. ... In order to understand the array of anti-Al-Hurra agendas, here’s a breakdown of Al-Hurra’s American and Arab enemies and my take on their probable motivations: ... -Voice of America apparatchiks (federal employees, many of them leftie journalists too) who covet Al-Hurra’s budget, and resent being frozen out of its control." Nibras Kazimi, Talisman Gate, 23 June 2008.
     "Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors Los Angeles (CJHSLA) is calling upon Congress to immediately investigate why the State Department is using the money of US taxpayers to spread hateful pro-terrorist and anti-Israel propaganda." Press release, 24 June 2008.
     "Alhurra, the U.S. government-funded Arabic news channel, paid former Bush and Clinton administration officials, lobbyists and high-profile Washington journalists tens of thousands of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money to appear on the network as commentators, according to interviews and a review of company records." ProPublica, 24 June 2008.
     "A former Alhurra employee was arrested earlier this month when he tried to break into the White House. The incident came just days after Homam Ali, 22, was allegedly fired for poor performance from his production assistant job at Alhurra, headquartered in Springfield, Va., where he had worked three years, according to two people at Alhurra familiar with his employment status." ProPublica, 23 June 2008.
     All these media pieces have not produced firm evidence that Alhurra has either a pro-U.S. or anti-U.S. bias. If ProPublica could only come up with one recent offending passage in its content analysis, that might be the exception that proves that Alhurra is playing it relatively straight. And I don't think Daniel Schorr is sufficiently fluent in Arabic to conclude that Alhurra "is trying to sell a propaganda line." The USC analysis of Alhurra content could be interesting, when it is released (if it is made public).
     If U.S. international broadcasting concentrates on providing accurate, objective, balanced news, to the extent humanly possible, there should not be problems in the future, even if there were problems in the past. (Well, okay, there will problems among those who think U.S. international broadcasting should transmit propaganda. And speaking of which, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen's (R-FL) call for a hearing about Alhurra might not be heeded, because the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Howard Berman (D-CA), is friendly with Norm Pattiz, the former BBG member who created Alhurra.)
     The real test is the ability to attract an audience. Here it would be useful for the BBG to make a frank and comprehensive public presentation of the audience research it has done in the Arab countries.
     It is probably unrealistic to expect Alhurra to have audiences larger than those of Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. It is more reasonable to give Alhurra the goal of competing well with BBC Arabic Television, but even that may be difficult. The answer may be for Alhurra to counterprogram BBC, doing this when BBC is doing that, doing that when BBC is doing this. Then Alhurra may find a respectable niche.
See previous post about same subject.

Didn't the Pointer Sisters have a song about this?

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Prof. Volker Bergahn of Columbia University: "A respectable sum has been invested to rescue America's reputation after the Iraq disaster in the world through cultural diplomacy. However, most of the American Secretaries for Public Diplomacy have only lasted a few months. Most of them were probably frustrated fast, being pushed too hard for fast and short term results. This reiterates the need for more long term approaches to cultural diplomacy. It will take time to win the minds and hearts, thus leading to the need for sustainable approaches to cultural diplomacy." Cultural Diplomacy News, 24 June 2008. It will also need the eradication of the term "hearts and minds."

RFE involved in historical claims about Lech Walesa.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
New book published in Poland claims that, in the 1970s, Lech Walesa "wrote reports and informed on more than 20 people and some of them were persecuted by the communist police. He identified people and eavesdropped on his colleagues at work while they were listening to Radio Free Europe for example." The former Solidarity movement leader and Polish president "strenuously denies the claims." BBC News, 23 June 2008.

Iranian website accuses Al Alarabiya (and VOA) of "flirting with terrorists."

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The Persian website of Al-Arabiya, which was recently launched with the help of the U.S. State Department and Persian speakers living in the U.S., is under the direct supervision of U.S. psychological warfare experts and a certain Arab country’s cultural attache’s office in Washington. ... While the U.S. claims it is engaged in a relentless campaign against terrorism, the Voice of America and Al-Arabiya are making coordinated efforts to depict the criminal acts of the Jundullah group in southeastern Iran as revolutionary acts." Tehran Times, 24 June 2008. The information in this article should be treated with the proper skepticism. However, it is correct about Al Arabiya now having a Persian website. It also has an Urdu website.

Al-Qaeda's propaganda operation.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"The war against terrorism has evolved into a war of ideas and propaganda, a struggle for hearts and minds fought on television and the Internet. On those fronts, al-Qaeda's voice has grown much more powerful in recent years. Taking advantage of new technology and mistakes by its adversaries, al-Qaeda's core leadership has built an increasingly prolific propaganda operation, enabling it to communicate constantly, securely and in numerous languages with loyalists and potential recruits worldwide. ... [Some analysts] warn against underestimating Zawahiri's skill at keeping the debate focused on U.S. policy in the Middle East, a subject that strikes a chord with millions of Muslims, even those otherwise unsympathetic to al-Qaeda." Craig Whitlock, Washington Post, 24 June 2008. This is the second in a series by Whitlock, the first being about Alhurra. See also previous post about same subject.

Enough video for a 91-year-long special.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Al-Jazeera has bought access to more than 800,000 hours of ITN-owned video content. The video content deal between al-Jazeera and ITN's archive business, ITN Source, is thought to be in worth more than £500,000 and will give the Doha-based news broadcaster access to the footage for more than five years. ... The licensing agreement covers unlimited global transmissions on the al-Jazeera network, its associated carriers and online outlets including al-Jazeera's YouTube pages." The Guardian, 24 June 2008.

Zimbabwe: six months in jail, or worse, for listening to VOA.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
"Police have charged a street vendor for listening to a special news programme on Zimbabwe broadcast by the Voice of America, as President Robert Mugabe’s government tries hard to limit alternative information available to voters ahead of a run-off presidential election next week. The vendor, Noel Tichawana, who was arrested about three weeks ago will appear in court on July 15 to answer to charges of committing criminal nuisance after he was caught listening to the programme, Studio 7, that broadcasts political, economic and general news on Zimbabwe. Tichawana, who is probably the first person to be charged for listening to the Studio 7 programme that is considered hostile by Mugabe’s government, faces up to six months in jail if found guilty. ... 'On several occasions, accused person would play his radio set at high volume attracting a crowd as he would switch it to America's Studio . . . informant then arrested the accused and brought him to St Mary's police station,' reads the charge sheet submitted to court." The Zimbabwean, 23 June 2008. In May, "Mugabe's mercenaries tortured 70 people, six to death. One of them was Joseph Madzuramhende, who had a radio tuned in to Voice of America." Wall Street Journal, 24 June 2008. "Foreign radio and television are popular throughout the country, partly due to the poor quality of Zimbabwe’s only domestic broadcaster, the state-run ZBC." Committee to Protect Journalists, 23 June 2008.

RFI reporter still in Niger prison.

Posted: 24 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Reporters sans frontieres "deplores the Niamey public prosecutor’s decision to file an immediate appeal against an investigating judge’s decision today to allow detained journalist Moussa Kaka to be released provisionally. The appeal blocked the release of Kaka, who continues to be held in a Niamey prison. The director of privately-owned Radio Saraounia and the Niger correspondent of Radio France Internationale and Reporters Without Borders, Kaka has been held on a charge of 'complicity in a conspiracy against the authority of the state' since 20 September." RSF, 23 June 2008. See also Reuters, 23 June 2008.

Throwing out the Alhurra bathwater, and probably the baby, too.

Posted: 23 Jun 2008   Print   Send a link
Alhurra, U.S. international broadcasting's 24-hour Arabic television channel, as well as its audio counterpart Radio Sawa, have come under a torrent of media scrutiny...
     "'Did you wonder whether the United States government should be in the business of Arab news gathering?" [Scott] Pelley asks [former Alhurra news director] Larry Register. 'I don't think any government should be involved in news gathering. 'Cause you can't make independent decisions if you have a government over you telling you what you can and can't do,' he says. 'If it's credible you run afoul with the government. If you follow the line of the government, nobody watches it in the Middle East,' Pelley remarks. 'It's a no-win situation, as I painfully found out,' Register says." CBS's 60 Minutes, 22 June 2008. <